Kenny’s Kicks It Up a Notch With Appetizers

Columns Pupu Picks

August 26, 2012

Story By: Steve Murray | Photos by: Leah Friel

I know what you’re thinking, Kenny’s doesn’t do pupus. Correction: Kenny’s didn’t do pupus, but thanks to the skill of sous chef James Drewery, and the tasting talents of 32-year veteran employee Erlene Hutchinson, diners at the popular family restaurant can get a little nosh with their oxtail soup.

Can an appetizer be a dessert? Oh, yes, it can. Candied Sweet Potato Fries ($5.95) is so simply smart that it’s shocking the option isn’t available everywhere. Tossed with sugar, butter, cinnamon and nut meg, the shoe string-cut fries are emptying the basket quick good. Add to that the Maple Cream Dipping Sauce that comes with each order and you’re in tater heaven.

If dipping is more your thing, Hot and Cool Seven Layer Dip ($9.95) could be right up your alley. The traditional tortilla shoveling compound begins with a base of hot refried beans and Cheddar cheese, and is topped with sour cream, homemade salsa, fresh avocado, olives, green onion, more Cheddar cheese and seasoned with cumin and chili pepper. The mixture of fresh ingredients is both creamy and tangy, and, as mentioned earlier, has met Hutchinson’s seal of approval.

“I’m his guinea pig. Everything you eat he has tried out on me first,” says Hutchinson with her trademark smile. So you know it’s good.

Bangin’ Shrimp ($11.95) is another example of Drewery’s ability to think on his feet. I’m not kidding about that, Drewery had a single day to complete the new appetizer menu. The spicy shrimp is seasoned with garlic and onion powder, battered in panko then deep-fried and served with a garlic, chili aioli. Naturally sweet, the shrimp has just the right amount of spice to satisfy those with a taste for excitement, but not enough to frighten away those of us who have a less developed tolerance for heat.

Finally, Kenny’s Lettuce Wrap ($10.95) is made from tender chicken thighs, and mixed with bamboo shoots, carrots, celery, onion and shiitake mushrooms, tossed with sesame oil and wok-fried. The tasty combo is served with iceberg lettuce and a not too spicy hoisen sauce. It’s another Hutchinson favorite and the enjoyment of each bite brings obvious delight to the chef — just like the large Sunday meals in the family’s Hampton, Virg. kitchen. Yes, Drewery is a southerner, so don’t be surprised if you see shrimp and grits on Kenny’s menu in the near future. Just don’t wait too long, the pupus are offered for a short time only.

Kenny’s Restaurant

Kamehameha Shopping Center
1620 N. School St.
Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96817

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