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Reeling in 2 Savory Specials at Kahai

Digest Foodie Fare

February 6, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Among the plate lunch specials being offered at Kahai Street Kitchen this coming week are two treasures pulled from the deep.

  • Teriyaki Boneless Short Ribs ($8.25)
  • Creating an affordable menu filled with delicious items was one of the goals of co-owner Nao Iwata when he purchased Kahai Street Kitchen in 2006.
  • Nori- and Kataifi-Wrapped Mahi Mahi with Sweet Chili Sauce ($8.25)
  • Furikake-Crusted Ahi Katsu with Wasabi Aioli ($8.25)
  • Co-owner Nao Iwata puts the finishing touches — a drizzle of tobiko aioli — on the Two Degree Ahi Roll.
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The first is a Two-Degree Ahi Roll, a combination fish dish overflowing with fresh island ahi, wrapped in nori and shiso, and a smoked tuna salad dusted with panko and deep fried to a golden medium-rare. The chef finishes this masterpiece with just a drizzle of tobiko aioli and a side serving of ponzu sauce.

Second on the list of must-try delights is the Shrimp Stuffed Fresh Ahi Roll. Fresh island ahi is stuffed with panko shrimp, wrapped in nori and shiso, then deep fried to medium rare. Pleasing to both eyes and palate, the dish is made even better with a drizzle of wasabi aioli and side of ponzu sauce.

Each order also comes with choice of white or brown rice, as well as potato-mac or tossed salad and costs $8.95, depending on market price of ahi.

“We’ve been offering ahi lately because we’ve been able to get ahi at a reasonable price, which we then pass on to our customers,” explains Kahai Street Kitchen co-owner Nao Iwata.

Other popular (and very affordable) plate lunch specials not to pass up include Nori- and Kataifi-Wrapped Mahi Mahi with Sweet Chili Sauce ($8.25), Furikake-Crusted Ahi Katsu with Wasabi Aioli ($8.25) and Teriyaki Boneless Short Ribs ($8.50).

The menu changes daily, so it is highly advised to check online, place a call or fax the restaurant (842.4273) in the morning to see what specials will be available that day.

Another reason to get there early — once the kitchen runs out of a certain item, that’s it till the next day.

Parking is very limited, as are tables inside, so it is recommended to place your take-out order first and bring a friend along to help with the pick-up. While one person circles the block, the other can run in for the food.

“Most of our orders are phone orders — some people call in their orders about 10 a.m and pick up 15-20 plates at lunchtime for their whole office,” Iwata says.

Kahai Street Kitchen is open for lunch only Tuesday through Friday, but catering options are available every day.

On the Side

Don’t let appearances fool you at Kahai Street Kitchen, because what the plate lunch eatery may lack in seating, parking and fine-dining accouterments it more than makes up for in food and service.

Located in industrial Kalihi makai of Nimitz Highway, Kahai Street Kitchen has been serving loyal customers an ever-changing menu of local delicacies for nearly five years.

“We keep customers’ interest and have them returning each day with our variety of plate lunch specials,” says Nao Iwata, who opened the plate lunch and catering company in 2006 with Bruce Watanabe.

Together the two have more than 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, and both believe in offering good-quality food at affordable prices.

“Everything is centered around this idea,” Iwata says of passing savings on to their customers.

Need further proof? Just scan the elaborate menu at Kahai Street Kitchen and you’ll rarely, if ever, find an item costing more than $10.

What you will find, however, is a mixed plate of homemade specialties that include Beef Wellington baked in Puff Pastry Shell, Macadamia Nut-Crusted Soft Shell Crab with White Wine Cream Sauce over Linguine, Roast Prime Rib of Beef with Au Jus and Creamy Horseradish, and Sauteed Opakapaka with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce.

“Many customers don’t realize that we’re also a catering company,” Iwata adds. “When we’re not open for plate lunch, we have catering available seven days a week for office meetings, parties, weddings and so on.”

Popular items to be found on their catering menu include Kataifi-Wrapped Shrimp with Wasabi Aioli, Golden Brie Cheese Wontons with Tropical Fruit Chutney, and Ricotta-Stuffed Chicken Medallions with Ricotta Cheese, Spinach and Mushrooms served with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce. Call the restaurant or e-mail ksk@kahaistkitchen.com for the full catering menu.

Kahai Street Kitchen

  • Where
    • 237 Kalihi Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96819
  • Call
    • (808) 845-0320
    • Fax orders for 10 people or more to 842-4273.
  • Hours
    • 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    • Tuesday – Thursday
    • 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    • Fridays
  • Notes
    • Catering packages are available for a wide range of events – from weddings to corporate parties. Call for more information and customized menu options.