Keeping Up With Kenny’s

Columns Foodie Fare

January 6, 2013

Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

Kenny’s Restaurant has been a favorite in the Islands since it opened in the 1960s. Serving up a mix of foods from a variety of influences, Kenny’s, located in Kamehameha Shopping Center, has something for everyone.

Senior assistant manager Erlene Hutchinson describes Kenny’s cuisine as “local comfort food.”

“It is kind of a little bit of everything ― mostly local favorites, but we also have American and Japanese dishes,” adds Leihulu Irvine, also a senior assistant manager.

Classic favorites include Kenny’s Famous Chinese Chicken Salad ($11.45), which features shoyu chicken, char siu, won ton chips, Chinese parsley and peanuts all over a bed of lettuce and bathed in a sesame seed sauce.

Another popular item is Ribeye Steak with grilled onions, mushrooms and bell peppers ($19.69), which features a well-marbled cut of beef, and is served with your choice of starch and vegetables.

But just because the restaurant has been around for a long time, don’t expect this innovative eatery to stay stagnant. The restaurant is constantly coming up with new dishes. And most recently, Kenny’s is kicking the new year off with a few new specials.

“Our new chef is introducing specials all the time,” Hutchinson says.

One of the newest specials is Fried Saimin with two pieces of teriyaki beef ($10.95). “We sell a lot of our Fried Saimin,” Irvine says, “and the special we have is adding the teriyaki beef on top.” The result is a tasty combination.

Another special is Fresh Opakapaka Lanai Style ($19.95), which is topped with a delectable pineapple macadamia nut butter and is served with a tossed salad.

Another new item currently gracing the menu is Spaghetti with Meat Sauce ($12.95), which is served with garlic bread.

“(These specials) actually started out as a one-week thing, but now they have been on for a month-and-a-half,” Irvine says, citing the dishes’ popularity as the reason behind their longevity.

All specials are available only as long as supplies last ― which for many of the tasty dishes might not be much longer.

Additional changes are currently in the works for Kenny’s.

“Moving into the beginning of this new year, we are actually looking into revamping the menu,” Irvine says. “We will be updating the menu and possibly bringing back some classics.”

But regular customers need not worry about their favorites going anywhere when the revamp does happen; Irvine assures that the restaurant will keep customer favorites around.

On the Side

Kenny’s Restaurant was founded in the 1960s by three friends ― Kenny Kaneshiro, John Fujieki and Herbert Souza.

They started off together as friends, and then Mr. Fujieki Sr. continued on,” explains senior assistant manager Leihulu Irvine. “Then Mr. Fujieki Jr. took over, and he runs it now. And now the third generation ― his daughter ― works here as well.”

Many remember Kenny’s from their youth, but now with a new year underway, the restaurant is looking toward the future. There is no set date yet, but a revamped menu will make an appearance early this year.

“We are just kind of looking at what the locals like, what the customers like and bringing out something new,” Irvine says.

“The chef really responds to customer feedback,” he explains. “If we try something and it’s not really something that takes off, we will try something else. And if it’s a really popular item, we will keep it around. We value customer opinions a lot.”

Just like the restaurant is now in its second generation of ownership, there are a lot of customers who grew up coming to the restaurant and now bring their children.

“We have a lot of customers and a lot of employees who have been here for years,” Irvine says.

“We are really appreciative … We just want to thank the customers for coming in,” adds senior assistant manager and long-time Kenny’s employee Erlene Hutchinson, “because without the customers … we wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have been open this long. We have a lot of good employees as well.”

Kenny’s Restaurant

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

Honolulu, HI 96817

Ilima Awards
Hawaii's Best