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Foodie Fare
Foodie Fare

Satisfy Your Plate Lunch Cravings, Gourmet Style

By Christina O Connor Photos By Anthony Consillio
February 9, 2014

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It’s likely that you have sampled Kahai Street Kitchen’s cuisine at an office party, graduation party, wedding reception or another gathering, as the Kalihi-based eatery, since 2006, has established itself as a popular catering service. But even for those who have enjoyed Kahai Street Kitchen’s catering items in the past, you’re in for a whole new experience when you stop by for lunch. During Kahai Street Kitchen’s weekday lunch hours, you can find what owner Naohisa Iwata calls “local-style comfort food.”

Iwata credits head chef David Yamamoto as the creative force behind many of Kahai Street Kitchen’s dishes, and the restaurant constantly is rolling out new specials.

This month, there’s a lot to look forward to, starting with Blackened Catfish ($11.50), which appears as a month-long special. The dish features sauteed cat-fish, accented with blackened spices and topped with a shrimp and scallop etouffee, or a Cajun-style sauce.

“Those who have tried the catfish really love it,” Yamamoto says.

This week, diners also can enjoy Free Range Three Cheese Double Burger with Prosciutto and Bacon ($10.50). Make sure to bring your appetite for this massive burger, which weighs in at 2 pounds. It also is stacked high with Swiss, pepper jack and Harvarti cheeses, as well as prosciutto, crispy bacon, tomato, and lettuce on a Kaiser bun. Lastly, the burger is finished off with crispy, deep-fried onions and served with Thousand Island Dijon spread, along with a choice of potato mac, tossed salad or fries on the side.

“We just started implementing this free-range meat,” Iwata says. “It’s different — it has a mild taste of lamb. I think people will really like it.”

“It’s a good product,” Yamamoto adds.

Next week (Feb. 16), Kahai Street Kitchen will change it up with yet another special — Marinated Rib Eye Steak Wrap ($9.95), which features char-broiled steak with mushroom duxelle, tomatoes, green leaf spring mix, cucumbers, shredded carrots, red onions and sprouts. It’s drizzled with a chipotle aioli and served with potato mac or tossed salad.

During the week of Feb. 23, customers can partake in Soft Shell Crab and Ahi Misoyaki Mix Plate ($12.50). The versatile dish presents a furikake-crusted soft shell crab, served with Japanese pickled vegetables and a masago sushi roll drizzled with a kabayaki sauce and Sriracha aioli. Fresh island ahi marinated in Kahai’s signature miso sauce and topped with a shredded namasu salad also accompanies the plate, in addition to your choice of white or brown rice and potato mac or tossed salad.

On the Side

Kahai Street Kitchen initially began as a catering company, providing food for various events around town. The response was great — so great, in fact, that business appeared right at the doorstep, as people passing by the Kalihi eatery would be drawn in thanks to the wonderful aromas permeating the premises.

“People were knocking on the door, so I decided to offer plate lunches one day,” Iwata recalls. “And when we did, business just took off.”

Today, Kahai Street Kitchen continues to run a successful catering business, while also serving lunch to its patrons.

“The plate lunch is fun for us. We can do a lot of things, and it is sort of like showing everybody what chef David (Yamamoto) can do,” Iwata says. “He comes up with all of these great ideas, and people really love his food.”

Chef Yamamoto has been honing his culinary craft for more than 35 years, previously having worked at Roy’s and other gourmet venues. Meanwhile, Iwata gained experience as a manager at various restaurants. But his real passion was cooking, and during his down-time, Iwata would ask the chefs how to prepare certain dishes. He quickly found that he had an aptitude for cooking as well, and with a little guidance from chefs, he could easily recreate their dishes.

Together, Iwata and Yamamoto make a great team, collaborating to create a menu they both enjoy. “It’s an ongoing process. We always try to develop new recipes and ideas,” Yamamoto says.

Contact Christina O’Connor at diningout@staradvertiser.com

Kahai Street Kitchen

237 Kalihi St., Honolulu
845-0320
Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Fridays, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.