A Global Perspective For All Palates

Cover Story Features

December 30, 2012

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

An explosion of flavors takes over at Kit n Kitchen, an award-winning restaurant on University Avenue, where the best of Eurasian fare makes its mark on Hawaii’s dining scene. Owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Kit and May Yiu, Kit n Kitchen has been attracting diners for the past 11 years with a myriad of eclectic fare, ranging from the most tender of meats and savory seafoods to decadent pastas and so much more.

Dining Out recently caught up with May — who also serves as executive chef of the restaurant — over superlative fare and conversation. An independent soul, May shares her passion for cooking, food and travel. For May, food is the essence of life, and it’s her worldly experiences that have helped to sustain the success of this most sought-after restaurant and will continue to do so for years to come.

DO: Have you always had a passion for cooking?

Yiu: Yes, I’ve always had a passion for this. I grew up in Montreal, Canada, and I loved to watch my mom cook. Then, as I got older, I lived on my own so I had to cook for myself.

DO: When in the kitchen, what is your favorite style of cuisine to create?

Yiu: Definitely Eurasian. When you combine European fare with Asian fare, it just complements each other perfectly. Chinese cooking has so much flavor to it, but requires the use of a lot of oil, and I don’t necessarily like that. And in European cooking, a lot of things are simmered, making the food relatively healthy. So, I like to combine the two. I like healthy food with a lot of taste.

DO: What is your favorite ingredient to work with?

Yiu: Vegetables. That is my primary ingredient that I use when I cook. There’s so much flavor in vegetables.

DO: Please explain some of the bestselling dishes here at the restaurant?

Yiu: There are so many, but I’ll tell you about some of the most popular. Garlic Pork Chop Chimichurri ($13.95) features bone-in pork chop with chimichurri sauce served over spaghetti with garlic olive oil, and accompanied by mixed vegetables. We’re known for our chimichurri sauce and sell it on its own here at the restaurant as well.

Scallop, Bacon, Spinach Spaghetti ($15.95) is another extremely popular dish, and presents seared scallop with spinach and crispy bacon over spaghetti. It’s a really good combination and customers can choose their own sauce, be it olive garlic oil, tomato sauce, rose pink sauce or pesto cream sauce.

Then we have Sizzling Seafood Paella ($14.95), which consists of a bed of toasty rice seasoned with sun-dried tomatoes, saffron and butter, topped with a seafood medley of shrimp, mussel and squid.

And for the best value, we recommend Four Course Meal ($20.95) — a set meal. For the first course, patrons can select from Garden Salad with homemade ginger dressing, Milano Tomato Soup, Creamy Corn Soup or Creamy Mushroom Soup. The second course follows with Spinach Lamb Roll — lamb roasted with herbs, mozzarella and pesto in flaky pastry baked to golden perfection — Grilled Beef with Chimichurri and Garlic Basil Shrimp. Then select an entree from the entree selection, and finally end on a sweet note with chocolate cake, ice cream, creme brulee or cheesecake. You can add a wine pairing to your meal for $10 more.

DO: Have you created any new dishes for customers to try?

Yiu: Yes, I’ve recently added Moroccan Lamb Stew to the menu. It’s very, very spicy. It features lamb marinated with spices and herbs, such as cumin, paprika, saffron, cinnamon clove and fennel seeds, braised in a rich tomato sauce. The spice in the dish is very intense, so I’ve also added in some cranberries for a hint of sweetness. Lately, I’ve been playing with a lot of spices, so it’s nice to see the finished product.

DO: That sounds incredible! Do you like spicy foods?

Yiu: Yes, I love spicy food! I make my own habanero sauce.

DO: Kit n Kitchen has always been known for its Eurasian-style cuisine, but recently, there have been additions to the menu, highlighting other ethnic fare. Tell us about this.

Yiu: I really enjoy tasting all kinds of food from around the world, and I’ve been loving spices. I love to travel, and I recently had the opportunity to visit India earlier this year — that trip really inspired me in the kitchen. I visited a local family and had many dinners with them. As a result, I learned new cooking techniques that I’m able to incorporate into the cuisine here at Kit n Kitchen. Moroccan Lamb Stew is an example of that.

DO: Kit n Kitchen has always been able to maintain its outstanding cuisine. As executive chef here, what are your plans for 2013?

Yiu: I hope to travel more and improve on my cooking techniques. In 2013, I would love to go to Cambodia. I heard it’s beautiful there, and I want to explore and try all the cuisine. My tastes are constantly changing and I love to try new things.

Kit n Kitchen

Varsity Center
1010 University Ave., Honolulu
Open daily
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Lunch)
5 p.m. – Midnight (Dinner)
Saturday – Sunday 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Breakfast)

Honolulu, HI 96826

Ilima Awards
Hawaii's Best