X

Savor the Flavors

Cover Story Features

May 9, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

The aroma of flautas and savory carne asada permeate the air while the sounds and beats of festive music keep pace with customers filing in and out. At Serg’s Mexican Kitchen, there are always maravilloso scents, sights and sounds — thanks to owner and chef Sergio Arellano, who has created quite a stir among locals since first bringing a taste of Mexico to the Islands in 2009.

  • Sergio Arellano, Elias Gonzalez, 5, and assistant chef Pako Jimenez.
  • Green Enchiladas ($8.95)
  • Pork Carnitas ($10.25)
  • Pork Carnitas ($10.25), Green Enchiladas ($8.95), Flautas ($9.25) and Red Enchiladas ($8.95).
  • Flautas ($9.25)
Image of

Indeed, the comida is always flavorful and the service ever-so-friendly at Serg’s.

Dining Out caught up with Arellano on a recent afternoon and discovered the vibrant culture of Mexico City is alive and well at the restaurant’s two locations in Manoa Valley and Waimanalo.

DO: What is the story behind Serg’s Mexican Kitchen?

Arellano: We offer very authentic Mexican food, very fresh. Authenticity is absolutely key here. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Mexico City with my family. I was always in the kitchen with my parents and grandparents, who were always cooking up Mexican food. That’s all we cooked.

DO: As the executive chef here at Serg’s Mexican Kitchen, you offer quite a variety of exquisite dishes to customers. Share with us some of your specialties.

Arellano: We have our famous Flautas ($9.25), which features a 12-inch flour tortilla, rolled and lightly fried. It’s then stuffed with your choice of shredded beef, chicken, pork carnitas, al pastor, or a vegetarian option. Finally, it’s topped with sour cream, avocado salsa and queso fresco (Mexican cheese). The Enchiladas ($8.95) also are a popular choice, with three rolled corn tortillas stuffed with your choice of meat, shrimp (additional $1) or made vegetarian style. Then we top it off with your choice of green or red sauce. Most of our dishes are served with rice and beans.

DO: Most menu options, such as the Pork Carnitas ($10.25), are derived from personal family recipes. Tell us more about this dish.

Arellano: This family recipe is a tender pork shoulder, slow roasted with special ingredients. It’s also served with rice, beans and pico de gallo. Everything’s delicious here and super fresh.

DO: The restaurant offers takeout and cater-ing options, and you said Serg’s Mexican Kitchen is known for its authentic Mexican dishes. What makes your cuisine authentic?

Arellano: Authentic ingredients! I don’t use anything from a can — all my salsas are made fresh and, of course, credit is due to Grandma’s recipes. I’ve been in the business for about 15 years, so I’ve also created some of these recipes myself. In addition to our specialties, we also have lots of appetizers and salads like Serg’s Nachos ($7.45) and Ceviche Salad ($10.25); tacos and burritos, such as Mexico City Style Tacos ($2.75 each) and Fish Tacos ($3.25 each), to name a few. Taco Tuesdays are set from 4 p.m. to closing every Tuesday — Fish Tacos are only $2 and all other tacos are $1.50.

DO: What makes Mexican food so desirable among kamaaina?

Arellano: I believe it’s the spices and most definitely the flavor. There’s a whole variety of flavors found in Mexican cooking, including herbs, oregano, cilantro and more. To me, Mexican food has a very special flavor, very fresh with that extra zest.

DO: Your Manoa restaurant seems to take customers to Mexico City without them having to leave home. Would you agree?

Arellano: Yes. The outdoor seating here is reminiscent of the backyard of my house. People can bring their drink of choice, as it’s BYOB. In fact, you could say that this is Mexico right here (laughs). The Waimanalo location has indoor seating, but you’ll find the same freshness and quality of food.

Serg’s Mexican Kitchen

  • Where
    • 2740 East Manoa Road
    • Honolulu, HI 96822
    •  
    • 41-865 Kalanianaole Highway
    • Waimanalo, HI 96795
  • Call
    • (808) 988-8118 (Manoa)
    • (808) 259-7374 (Waimanalo)
  • Hours
    • Manoa
    • 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Monday – Saturday
    • 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    • Sundays
    •  
    • Waimanalo
    • 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    • Monday – Saturday
    • 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    • Sundays