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Look Into a Tasty World of Possibilities

By Alana Folen Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
June 1, 2014

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Connoisseurs of contemporary cuisine are enthusiastic about the eclectic variety of options at Kit n Kitchen. The menu seems almost limitless, ranging from classic comfort food to edible masterpieces boasting a rustic, earthy appeal. There’s also no shortage of savory and sweet, and a boost of spice is easy to come by.

With one location on University Avenue and the other in Pearl City, Kit n Kitchen offers easy access to home-cooked Eurasian fare. Dining Out recently took the opportunity to sit down with May Yiu, who owns the restaurant with her husband Kit. Her passion for creating edible works of art is apparent — she cooks from the heart. During our visit, Yiu shared with us some newly released dishes that made their way onto the menu just in time for Father’s Day.

DO: Kit n Kitchen is a longstanding success in Hawaii’s restaurant scene. With a booming establishment on University Avenue for the past 13 years, and the newest Pearl City location celebrating its first anniversary, what is it about the restaurant that has been attracting customers on a regular basis?

Yiu: I strongly believe that it’s our philosophy: a classic play on European and Asian fusion featuring lighter ingredients that are still very flavorful and unique. We offer an extensive high-end menu, which includes items such as escargot, osso bucco, fresh clams and more than 100 variations of pasta dishes at a very reasonable price. Our 99 cent menu also is popular with customers. With a purchase of two entrees, one of our selected appetizers is available for only 99 cents.

DO: The restaurant certainly caters to its patrons. With this in mind, have there been any recent changes to any aspect of the restaurant?

Yiu: There are always going to be changes in the restaurant business, and you have to keep your finger on your customers’ pulse to figure out what appeals to them. As a result, I’m very happy to introduce Braised Pork Shank ($19.95). This dish is a hefty serving of pork shank braised in our signature peppercorn sauce and served with a side of spaghetti. The meat is so tender, it falls off the bone.

DO: Many would be surprised to know that in addition to owning the restaurant, you also serve as executive chef. How did your passion for cooking emerge?

Yiu: I was hooked on my first bite of my mother’s cooking. Since then, I have been in love with food. It has been my dream to be able to make a living off of something I’m so passionate about. I’m always learning new things and expanding my repertoire. I don’t like to limit myself.

DO: Share a few of your signature creations that you are most proud of.

Yiu: I’m always inspired by my travels abroad. I like to try all kinds of cuisine. Moroccan Lamb Stew is a more recent item that we offer. Priced at $16.95, succulent lamb is marinated with our aromatic blend of herbs and spices simmered in a mix of tomatoes and vegetables with a kiss of dried cranberries — the perfect complement to the savory, spiced stew.

Another favorite is Sizzling Seafood Paella ($16.95). Served on a sizzling platter, this dish features shrimp, calamari and mussels with jasmine rice, cooked over an open fire with saffron, sun-dried tomatoes and spices, filling your senses with the aroma of toasted spiced rice and seafood.

Throughout my travels, I have sampled many lovely dishes and have exchanged ideas with top chefs in the industry. I have tried to incorporate some of their ideas and techniques into my own cuisine, but make it my own. I like to share my vision with my customers, providing them with a new take on familiar dishes.

DO: Kit n Kitchen also produces an assortment of appetizers and desserts. What are a couple of bestsellers?

Yiu: Patrons enjoy Cream of Mushroom Soup with French Pastry Puff ($5.90), a light and creamy mushroom and vegetable soup crowned with a delicious pastry puff baked a delightful golden brown. For dessert, I recommend Pyramid Pillows ($8.95), toasted cubes of bread topped with fresh strawberries or bananas paired with condensed milk, honey, syrup and ice cream.

DO: Everything sounds so wonderful! Tell us, what’s the recipe for success?

Yiu: We enjoy being creative and always adding new items to the menu. That’s what keeps our customers coming back, as well as the good food.

We frequently hear how wonderful the food is, but customer service also has a lot to do with it. I’m grateful that we have a very friendly and knowledgeable staff, who keep the dining experience very light and refreshing.

DO: What does the near future hold for Kit n Kitchen?

Yiu: We recently started a delivery service to the Pearl City, Waipio and Pearlridge neighborhoods, and so far the demand and positive feedback have been great. I’m also working on some new menu items that I hope to debut in the near future, as well as new concepts, including a possible prix-fixe menu with a Kit n Kitchen twist!

Kit n Kitchen

UNIVERSITY
1010 University Ave.
942-7622
Breakfast service starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday only
Daily, 11 a.m.2 p.m. (lunch) and 5-11 p.m. (dinner)

PEARL CITY
1029 Makolu St.
294-5888
Breakfast service starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday only
Daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.