Regional cuisines develop when migrants settling in an area bring their own culinary traditions to their new homeland. When settlers come from many different places, these traditions are thrown into a melting pot and stirred well until they are blended into something entirely new. The result becomes a signature cuisine that tastes unmistakably of a particular area while still paying homage to the influences of other countries. Such is the case with Hawaiian cuisine, whose unique flavors are showcased at Maui Express.

A perennial favorite at the Grossmont Center food court, Maui Express specializes in the islands’ dishes, with roots in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, and Puerto Rican cuisines. This mouthwatering amalgamation of flavors have attracted and maintained a loyal clientele. Customers make it a point to eat here when they are visiting the Center, so they can get their Hawaiian food fix!

Plate lunches are a staple of Hawaiian cuisine, and they are a popular menu item at Maui Express. These plates come loaded with generous portions of steamed rice and macaroni salad plus a choice of protein. Options include zesty pineapple orange chicken, savory garlic shrimp or chicken, Hawaiian BBQ beef or short rib, and laulau pork. Hearty appetites are sure to be satisfied with combination plates, such as the chicken combo (BBQ chicken and chicken katsu) or seafood mix (mahi-mahi, crispy shrimp, and a choice of BBQ chicken, beef, or short rib).

“Customers love the plate lunches,” says manager Shiu Chan Wu. “We want them to enjoy a meal that has an authentic taste of Hawaii with food that is fresh, hot, and delicious. We have had customers tell us our food tastes homemade, which makes us really happy.”

Another island specialty at Maui Express is the saimin, which is an Asian-influenced noodle soup. The soup is flavored with green onion and is topped with Portuguese sausage, BBQ chicken, beef, or, naturally, Spam. The restaurant also serves rice bowls that can be topped with teriyaki BBQ chicken or the pineapple orange chicken.

For anyone eating on the go or looking for something a little lighter, Maui Express has a terrific menu of smaller items and side dishes that will hit the spot. Lumpia, the Filipino take on a spring roll, comes in chicken or vegetable varieties. You can also order manapua, a Hawaiian twist on the Chinese bao with savory meat sandwiched between wonderfully soft buns. Of course, a Hawaiian menu is incomplete without the classic snack Spam musubi. Here, it’s served the traditional way, with a slice of Spam placed atop a block of rice and wrapped with seaweed; if you’re not a Spam fan, try it with sausage or BBQ chicken instead. In addition to the steamed rice and macaroni salad, other side dishes include fries, kimchee, and gyoza. Complete your meal with a Thai or boba tea.

Just like the food, the service at Maui Express has a friendly, aloha spirit to it. Their goal is to keep customers happy and satisfied with prompt service that is delivered by smiling employees. It is all about pleasing the customer at Maui Express!

Striving to keep customers happy is common at businesses where you can shop local. Grossmont Center is renowned for its collection of locally owned businesses. These shops, restaurants, and service providers add incredible value to the Center as well as the La Mesa community at large. They offer a diverse array of goods and services that cannot be found just anywhere. The entrepreneurs behind these businesses spend a great deal of time and effort to get to know their customers in order to deliver unparalleled service. They provide work in the form of jobs as well as contracts with local vendors. Shop local-style businesses also help drive the local economy, with an average of 67 cents of every dollar spent at small businesses staying in the community. They also provide something less tangible but equally important: a unique community aesthetic. Unique specialty shops and restaurants can make a city a must-visit destination, drawing locals and tourists alike. Those are all great reasons why you should shop local whenever possible. It benefits you, it benefits the business, and it benefits the greater community.

In Hawaiian, the word for delicious is “ono.” If you want a meal that is full of ono food, come to Maui Express and get a taste of the islands. Aloha!


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