Worth The WaitFeatures Inside Feature
August 20, 2017
Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
It may take a few more minutes to receive your order at Kahai Street Kitchen than is the case at a typical plate-lunch establishment, but don’t fret — the cuisine is worth the wait.
Executive Chef David Yamamoto explains that each dish is made to order from scratch, and the extra time spent crafting each dish in the kitchen allows for enhanced quality and flavor to develop, one plate at a time.
“Good food takes a while to make, but it’s worth it,” adds owner Nao Iwata.
Kahai Street Kitchen has built a loyal customer base by offering gourmet quality dishes served with the portability, value and quickness of a plate lunch. Iwata can often be found in the kitchen helping prepare meals at the restaurant — which is located conveniently in Moiliili on King Street — while also monitoring daily operations.
The restaurateur counts on the expertise of co-owner Yamamoto for help with everything from crafting the menu to coordinating and tailoring catering orders. Iwata finds that his clientele represents a wide range of Oahu’s diverse population, and patrons have one thing in common: they enjoy what Yamamoto calls Kahai Street Kitchen’s “Pacific comfort food” with an island flair.
The business was launched in Kalihi (hence the ode to Kahai Street in its name) in 2006 as a catering-only kitchen and expanded steadily to serve lunch and dinner. The eatery now offers a larger dine-in area as well as ample street parking, and serves as a convenient spot to get great food at a reasonable price — no matter what one does for a living.
“What I try to do is offer items to fit their budgets, and cater to the customer – we make restaurant-quality food and offer it at plate lunch prices,” Iwata says. “David is the brains behind all the food. He’s the creative side, and his personal touch goes into every dish. He continues to amaze me.”
Yamamoto tinkers with new approaches to local comfort food, as is the case with Local Boys Salt-and-Pepper Ahi Belly ($9.95). The tasty fish is broiled to perfection and served with a side of ginger-infused ponzu and a garnish of Japanese ragout with spicy tomato, kinpira gobo and hasu.
KSK Crispy Pork Belly ($10.25) brings together multiple flavors, as the oven-roasted pork belly is sliced and dusted in corn starch before being deep fried until crispy. It’s tossed in the restaurant’s garlic-and-black pepper vinaigrette along with fresh tomatoes, sweet round onions and green onions.
A local favorite is reimagined via Bento on a Plate ($11.95), a combination of garlic chicken, teriyaki short ribs, Spam, panko shrimp and furikake-crusted ahi with wasabi aioli.
Sliced roast beef and au jus make French Dip Sandwich ($10.25) a must-try at Kahai Street Kitchen as the tender meat is served on a grilled brioche bun with chipotle aioli, caramelized onions, melted provolone cheese and a choice of fries, tossed salad or potato macaroni salad.
Kahai Street Kitchen offers a wide array of unique daily specials and “old school favorites,” all of which feature Yamamoto’s signature mixture of flavor and texture; the specials are served on a revolving basis according to the fresh ingredients available that day. Call 845-0320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and customized catering options.
Kahai Street Kitchen
946 Coolidge St., Honolulu
Tuesday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.