New menu keeps it simple, but deliciousCover Story Features
April 27, 2015
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Tony Grillo
Kenny’s Restaurant at Kamehameha Shopping Center is everything you’d want from a neighborhood diner: an expansive dining room, counter seating, where you can see the cooks at work, and a friendly staff, many of whom have been with the establishment for generations.
The Kalihi establishment was opened in 1966 by founders John Fujieki, Kenny Kaneshiro and Herbert Souza. Today, Fujieki’s son, John Fujieki Jr., serves as president and owner of the operation. He continues to perpetuate Kenny’s longstanding tradition of treating customers like ohana, and takes their wants and needs to heart. Recently, Kenny’s menu got a makeover, one in which “simplicity is key and less is more.”
“We condensed the menu by 30 percent. Our (former) menu was too cluttered, and we felt it was time to simplify things,” says Fujieki Jr.
So just what items in particular made the final cut onto the new menu? Kenny’s most popular dishes, including Japanese Entree Combination, Kenny’s Breakfast Bento, Local Boy Stew, Kim Chee Fried Rice with Two Eggs, along with the American classic Turkey, Bacon and Avocado Sandwich, which is served on honey wheat bread with a side of fries.
Fujieki Jr. recommends Kenny’s Kim Chee Fried Rice with Two Eggs ($9.89), as well as Local Boy Stew ($12.89), which are obvious best-sellers among patrons. The first dish features mouthwatering fried rice with kim chee, while the kim chee sauce is garnished with morsels of ham, bacon, Spam, egg and green onion topped with two eggs (any style). The second dish tempts taste buds with savory short ribs, chunks of potato, onions and carrots over rice.
“Many of our island-inspired dishes have a local twist to them,” says supervisor Jimmy O’Donnell. He points out Japanese Entree Combination, for instance, with samplings of yakitori, tonkatsu and teriyaki beef accompanied by a bowl of miso soup, tsukemono and rice.
Also, a daily selection of fresh, local, Hawaiian waters fish is added to the menu.
Comfort food for the soul is what Kenny’s Restaurant does best. On any given day, this Kalihi eatery is flooded with local patrons who all crave the kamaaina favorites and American staples that warm the heart and soul. And speaking of the heart, the restaurant also presents heart-healthy options as indicated on the menu. These items are either low or free of sugar and sodium
“We want to keep our loyal customers coming back,” says O’Donnell, who adds that customer feedback proved very beneficial when creating the new menu. “We appeal to generations of families, and that’s indicated by the fact that we offer designated menus especially for both keiki and kupuna alike.”
Complete with puzzles, word finds and crayons for coloring, Kenny’s keiki menu is for those age 12 and under, and features kid-tested and mother-approved favorites such as Grilled Cheese ($5.29), Spaghetti with Meat Sauce ($6.89), Macaroni & Cheese ($5.29), Keiki Beef Teriyaki Plate ($6.89) and Keiki Slider ($6.49). The beverage selection consists of hot chocolate, 2-percent milk, keiki orange juice, keiki POG juice, soda and ice tea. And who can forget about dessert? Children will swoon over Keiki S’Mores, Worms in Dirt and, of course, ice cream.
The senior menu is available on Mondays, while Early Bird Specials are good Monday through Thursday (breakfast, 6:30-7:30 a.m.; lunch, 10:30-11:30 a.m.; and dinner, 4-5 p.m.) with deals up to 30 percent off regularly priced items.
“Most importantly, when reinventing the menu, we took the time to listen to our patrons, and see what they liked and disliked. Because everyone is on a budget nowadays, we didn’t want high prices to deter customers. I think we’re taking steps in the right direction,” O’Donnell says.
Kamehameha Shopping Center
1620 N. School St. Honolulu
6:30am – 10:30pm