Craving a Bite of the Chicken That’s “Just Right”
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It’s 4:30 a.m., are you already standing in line for Mitsu-Ken? Do you have their phone number programmed in your cell phone and call them more than your mother? Is Mitsu-ken your first stop after landing home from the airport? Did you freeze a stockpile of garlic chicken to take to college? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a case of Mitsuken madness! But fear not, you are not alone. Others have uttered: “Oh my gosh, I need chicken.”
“It’s like an obsession,” explains Sherri Kaneshiro, Mitsu-ken’s bookkeeper and office manager. Made of secret ingredients, it’s the Goldilocks of fried garlic chicken: not too sweet, too salty or garlicky. “Everybody says, yours is just right,” Kaneshiro says. The chicken is tender with a crispy batter, coated in a teriyaki-like garlic sauce. And for $2.10 for three pieces a la carte or $7 plus tax for a whole plate, it’s affordable, too. The plate lunch comes with two scoops rice, one scoop macaroni potato salad or tossed salad and six pieces of chicken. But you can pretty much get garlic chicken with everything; in bentos and even for breakfast. If you are a fiend for the sauce, for rice or the additional dunk, order extra on the side for an additional cost.
Saucy morsels of chicken are scarfed in cars in the parking lot, as there is no seating at the eatery. But patrons are happy do their devouring away from the prying, jealous stink eye of those standing in line still waiting for their turn. Actually, the line moves quickly.
When the “Oh my gosh, I need chicken” patrons can’t get what they crave, then it becomes a problem. But Mitsu-ken has a solution for this: Freeze it! “When college students’ parents go and visit them on the Mainland, we have a lot of orders,” says Kaneshiro. Frozen chicken can be microwaved and the special flavor remains intact.
Also, it’s best to pre-order garlic chicken so you can get your fix. “Sometimes we do sell out. And we try to accommodate everyone,” she adds. Pre-orders are highly recommended for Thursday through Saturday.
“If you know tomorrow that you want a bento, for example, just call it in.”
This ensures you get what you want and also helps you avoid the line of hungry patrons — just walk up to the cashier at the phone-order pick-up line.
On the menu and similarly obsession-worthy is the tender kalbi, again, made with secret ingredients.
Kaneshiro reveals, “I have a customer who comes in three or four times a week to order it.”
Its ginger, shoyu sauce can be drizzled over the rice for an added enjoyment. The plate lunch costs $7.50 plus tax.
Mitsu-Ken madness is in full effect!
Mitsu-Ken Okazu & Catering
2300 N. King St., Honolulu
Tuesday–Saturday, 5 a.m.–1 p.m.