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Pupu Picks
Pupu Picks

Shouting Praises for Garlic Chicken

By Steve Murray Photos By Nathalie Walker
February 3, 2013

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If you haven’t been to Mitsu-Ken, you’ve been to Mitsu-Ken. By that I mean the long-time Kalihi okazu is like others of the same style, no tables, street-front ordering, good prices and long lines. At least the good ones have long lines, and Mitsu-Ken can have some very long lines.

Brad Kaneshiro opened Mitsu-Ken 20 years ago and borrowed the best recipes from friends and family to create a comfortable menu that is as simple as it is tasty. The adobo came from his aunt on Maui, the Maki Sushi from his mother-in-law and the garlic chicken, oh my, the garlic chicken, from a good friend. Evidently a very good friend because the garlic chicken is why people keep coming.

Yes, there are other things to try, in fact, many things to try. But to quote an online commentator, “Get the fried garlic chicken. Did you hear that? FRIED GARLIC CHICKEN!”

Not convinced? “OH, GARLIC CHICKEN, how I LOVE you!”

Finally for the locals, you’d be surprised as to how many visitors to Oahu find this place, “This chicken was broke ‘da mouth!”

All this for $2.10.

It’s not hard to understand the affection. The chicken is crunchy, sweet, tangy, moist and the dark sauce topping provides a perfect accent of flavor. We’re calling it a Three Bears meal and Goldilocks is the throng of customers who make this a daily habit. It’s not too salty, not too sour and not too sweet. It’s just right.

And?

My own visit began with the chicken and included the Green Bean and Chicken Stir Fry ($2.15) — yum; Chow Fun ($1.40) — outstanding; and the Maki Sushi ($3.60 for an eight-slice roll or 95 cents each) — huge!

Other options may include Stuffed Ahi ($5.50), Teriyaki Meat-balls ($1.75), Chicken Katsu ($2) or Nishime ($2). Many of these can be turned into a plate lunch for just a few dollars more.

If there is a downside to Mitsu-Ken it is that it closes early. But that’s not really a bad thing. Mitsu-Ken is a family-run restaurant and its hours reflect the availability of the wives and cousins who man the stations. Sherrie Kaneshiro, the bookkeeper, head of human resources, and over all do-it-all, says they have thought about expanding its hours, but the family controls of the family restaurant are too important. But change is coming.

Mitsu-Ken is scheduled to open in its new location, 2300 N. King St., across from New City Nissan, Feb. 15. Everything will remain the same except the parking — they’ll have plenty.

Mitsu-Ken

1223 N. School St., Honolulu
848.5573
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 5 a.m.-1 p.m.
Breakfast served until 10:30 a.m.