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The Catered Bento Lunch Hunt

Over the years, we’ve catered casual office luncheons from numerous restaurants and caterers around Honolulu. The dish of choice has often been the “local style” bento, or “box lunch” due to its all-in-one simplicity, value and universal appeal. With that, we continually try new places in search of an excitingly new, budget-busting bento deal.

With much delight, our latest find has become one of the best we’ve tried yet. It’s the Lunch Bento from Kahai Street Kitchen

Kahai Street Kitchen Lunch Bento
Lunch Bento from Kahai Street Kitchen, $5.75 ($6.02 w/tax)

Kahai St. Kitchen’s bento includes (top to bottom): (1 pc.) Panko Shrimp, (2 pcs.) Spicey Fried Chicken Wings, (2 pcs.) Teriyaki Beef BBQ Short Ribs, (1 pc.) Herbed Mahimahi Dore style, (2 pcs.) Takuan, all served on a bed of shredded cabbage and white rice with a light sprinkle of Furikake. Wow!

Just looking at it, the BBQ beef looks nicely seared and moist, but how was the entire bento as a whole? Often when restaurants cater food, they need to prepare these bulk orders far in advanced of the time for actual service. The result being sometimes cold, overcooked and/or dried out food. Such was far from the case on this day’s order of over 50 bento lunches from Kahai Street Kitchen.

Our spread of bento lunches here stand 2-deep. Pass me the chopsticks please!

EVERY item was perfectly moist, and actually retained some of the heat from their actual time being cook. Indeed the folks on the production line work fast; and more importantly, know how to COOK! Not only were the various entree items moist and still warm, but absolutely ono!

The two chicken wings had a slight hint of what seemed like geniune Buffalo wings sauce mixed into the batter, along with a slightly sweet, slightly tangy (from the sauce?) accent. Tender inside, crispy outside, with a thin, crunchy batter.

The nicely-sized shrimp tail had a thick, katsu-like Panko batter on it Again, moist and flavorful, along with a nice “GBD” finish. It tasted like they also slightly sweetened the batter on this, as it had lots of flavor on its own – no dipping sauce required.

The lightly fried SPAM was the regular sodium variety, which seemed excessively salty on its own, but add a little Furikake rice along with it, and it’s all good.. just a like a Spam Musubi!

The mahimahi’s “Dore style” reminded me of fish jun, except with herbs mixed in. Generous portion as well. Excellent.

Saving the best for last was indeed the BBQ Teriyaki Beef Shortribs. These were actually boneless and surprisingly tender. Each piece was cut about 2″x3″x1/2″ thick, char-grilled with nice “papa’a” (slightly burnt) sear marks and a medium-rare inside. It tasted sort half-Kal Bi, half Teri’ Beef. Broke da’ mout’!

Unlike a plate lunch’s standard Macaroni salad accompaniment, bento lunches come with Japanese style pickled Daikon radish called Takuan (that yellow slivered half-circle thing). This condiment helps buffer the palete for each different entree, nicely rounding out the meal.

Personally, I’d prefer there be less meat items on there, and more Tsukemono items (pickled vegetables), but this works fine to.

Next time you need to cater a casual office or family party, or even if it’s just a few of you looking for some ono local grinds, consider checking out the grinds at Kahai Street Kitchen. Their bento is up there with the best of the bunch!

Kahai Street Kitchen
237A Kalihi Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
Phone (808) 845-0320
FAx (808) 842-4273

Note: Delivery available on bulk orders.

**funny, they’re name is different than what actual street their address is. lol**

Tasty Island Rating:

Supah’ Ono!

8 thoughts on “The Catered Bento Lunch Hunt

  • February 20, 2007 at 6:39 am

    I love bentos ….thanks for the lead for our next office order too. we’re always looking for a place to grab some lunch! Is this across Ethel’s Restaurant? I think I may know the owners ..haha! the BBQ is always the key for me to decide whether a bento is good … Zippy’s could improve on theirs, altho i enjoy their fried chicken.

  • March 15, 2007 at 5:54 am

    i went here the other friday and picked up bentos for my work gang …we all enjoyed it and Nao (the co-owner) was so nice and so accomodating. he was really appreciative of your entry. i told him that you had this awesome photo of da ono bento!! he knew right off !! see, pomai …you’re getting famous! Keep up the great blog!

  • June 21, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    I am LUCKY, LUCKY, LUCKY to work across the street from Kahai Street Kitchen! They are on the Diamond head corner of Kalihi and Kahai Street.
    Everyone… this place is a MUST! The daily specials are not the usual plate lunch menus! The “regular” menu items are good, too! The only thing you won’t like is TRYING TO DECIDE WHAT TO ORDER! It’s all ono! No joke! How wonderful to eat such fabulous food at plate lunch prices!
    And, YES, Nao and his staff are so friendly! Good people, good food!
    Ask for the menu… you’ll see what I’m talking about!

  • July 4, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    OMG! I was there a month ago, and I NEVA know about you guys!!!I’m stupid. U know, went to Zippys for bento!!! Next time I going visit u guys.

  • March 19, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Susie is right, the junkest thing about Kahai Kitchen is deciding what to order (then only picking one).

    The other week we tried the tea smoked duck and opakapaka. Both were delicious. I liked that they price quality over quantity. I don’t eat much so I a large portion doesn’t appeal to me, but high quality does!

    If you need a place to eat after picking up your food, Lion coffee is just up the street. Pick up a coffee from there and eat in their outdoor (in the warehouse) seating.


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