If my previous post on poke led you to believe that all Hawaiian food is sunny and light, allow me to introduce you to plate lunch. If Hawaiian foods were Lord of the Rings characters, poke is an elf, plate lunch a cave troll.
Poke says "welcome to Hawaii!," places a lei around your neck and fans an ocean breeze in your direction. Plate lunch slaps you a little too hard on the shoulder so that you fall down in the sand and just take a nap instead of trying to stand back up.
I only ate plate lunch once, so I may not have the most accurate take on it, but as I understand it, a plate lunch is a heavy dose of meat, usually pork, a few scoops of white rice, and a seemingly misplaced side of macaroni salad.
It took three of us and one two year old to finish a plate lunch combo with both Kalua pig and lau lau at a place called Keneke's in Waimanalo. The amount of meat, especially for the price, was either astounding or disconcerting depending on whether you're thinking about your stomach or the rising temperature of the planet. Certainly no one needs that much meat in one sitting, but I certainly loved eating it.
The Kalua pig was a juicy mound of smoked, shredded pork. Exactly what the seasonings were I can't say, though salt figured prominently. The lau lau was pork wrapped in lu'au leaves which where then wrapped in taro leaves and steamed. (Apparently lau lau often contains butterfish as well, and though I didn't see any in there, I will get to butterfish soon.) The pork was about as tender as could be, the lu'au leaves rich and deeply flavorful, like a cross between spinach, calaloo, and pure iron.
My understanding is that these dishes were traditionally cooked in an imu (underground oven) and are now more commonly prepared by steaming on the stove top. Again, refer to Rachel's book if you want to know for sure. All I know is that it was delicious.