Kenny’s Welcomes You HomeCover Story Features
September 30, 2012
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel
Come home again to Kenny’s Restaurant, where home-cooked comfort food and a friendly staff of longtime employees warm the heart and soul. With the welcoming of fall also comes cravings for classics just like Mom used to make, and favorites that remind us of family gatherings around the table. Here at Kenny’s, you can have all of this and more, but without the hassle of standing at the stove for hours on end.
Located at Kamehameha Shopping Center in Kalihi, Kenny’s has been an iconic landmark since 1966 when founders John Fujieki, Kenny Kaneshiro and Herbert Souza opened the doors. Nowadays, Fujieki’s son, John Fujieki, serves as president and owner of the establishment. He believes that while continuity is key, it’s also important to change with the times.
“We have a lot of employees who have been with us for decades, such as our senior assistant manager, Erlene Hutchinson, who has been with us for 32 years, but we also just recently hired a new sous chef, Peter Alarcon, about two weeks ago,” Fujieki says.
“With every new chef comes new ideas; our menu is ever-evolving,” Hutchinson adds.
Kenny’s offers a vast array of cuisine, specializing in local, Japanese and American fare, and Alarcon brings his own unique twist to the menu with the addition of Poke with Walnuts, and Snapper with Lemon Caper Butter Sauce (prices yet to be determined).
“Poke with Walnuts is something that you won’t find at very many places,” Alarcon says, describing this alluring dish as the freshest of poke marinated in soy sauce and seasoned with Hawaiian salt, red onions, green onions and chopped walnuts. “The walnuts bring a texture to the dish, which complements the softness of the ahi.”
As for the mouthwatering snapper, Alarcon lightly coats the fish with flour and sautes it to perfection before taking it to the next level with fresh butter, capers and a zest of lemon, not to mention the sides of rice and stir-fried mixed vegetables that accompany the meal.
“I hope the customers are happy with these dishes. I really want to bring more local dishes to the menu,” he adds.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Kenny’s entire menu is available at any time of the day or night. So, if you’re aching for Kenny’s Specialty Full Stack Pancakes with chocolate chips and almonds ($10.85) for dinner — yes, Kenny’s can make it happen.
“Currently, with the purchase of any breakfast entree, you receive two free hotcakes until noon,” Hutchinson confirms.
A best-seller for years is Kenny’s Famous Chinese Chicken Salad ($11.45), spotlighting shoyu chicken, char siu, wonton chips, Chinese parsley and peanuts on a bed of crisp lettuce doused with the restaurant’s special sesame seed dressing (sugar-free dressing also available upon request).
“We had a customer from Hong Kong come in and say this is the best Chinese Chicken Salad he’s ever had in his life,” senior assistant manager Duck Sheldon recalls.
“We have a lot of loyal customers who know us on a first-name basis. Some visit regularly and we know their orders — Prime Rib Au Jus is a popular one.”
Priced at $25.99 for a regular cut and $30.99 for Kenny’s Cut, this former special is now available daily and features a slow-roasted cut of succulent prime rib served with au jus and a side of horseradish, mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley of baby corn, broccoli, green beans, bell peppers, water chestnuts and carrots.
Kenny’s also serves up an array of fruit of the sea, including Menpachi ($20.99) steamed in Kenny’s house-made regular or sugar-free sauce, or grilled with lemon shoyu and suri daikon.
“James Drewery was our former sous chef and he brought a lot of Southern items to the menu, such as barbecue ribs and homemade cornbread, which we have kept on the menu as well,” Hutchinson explains. “Business has been steady and we couldn’t be happier, although with the holiday season coming up we’re expecting an increase in customers coming in for our holiday packages to-go.”
Kenny’s is already taking orders for its holiday packages: Freshly Roasted Turkey, Complete Turkey Package, Holiday Ham, Holiday Prime Rib and Special Turkey Plates.
“This year, we decided to offer cornbread stuffing or lup cheong stuffing for an additional price. We hope it will be a great holiday season for us and it’s never too early to get started,” Sheldon says, adding that patrons may call 841.0931 for more information and to place orders.
“Some may not know that we also cater, and with football season here, that’s picking up a lot.”
With a variety of tray sizes to choose from, from half to extra-large, tailgaters and party-goers have been gravitating toward top catering entrees, including BBQ Beef Tri-Tip, Korean Chicken, Chow Mein Noodles and more.
“Kenny’s is a friendly place to enjoy a meal with family or friends,” Fujieki says. “The secret to our success all of these years lies in our employees and our customers, they have been extremely loyal to us.”
Kamehameha Shopping Center
1620 N. School St., Honolulu
Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.