Kenny’s Celebrated Chinese Chicken Salad
Kenny’s Restaurant, formerly Kenny’s Coffee House & Deli, has been a mainstay in the Kamehameha Shopping Center in Kalihi for as long as I can remember. They gave the restaurant a complete renovation back in 2003, not long after closing Kenny’s Burgerhouse in the same shopping center, which is now a McDonald’s.
We decided to have lunch here the other day to catch up on this popular neighborhood Kalihi eatery.
The renovated interior has a clean, warm, at-home and relaxed, non-hurried feel to it, with comfortable, semi-private booth-style seating.
The coffee house & diner style menu has all the comfort foods one would expect, of course with a local twist to many of the dishes.
Getting right into it, I remember reading an article about their fantastic fish dishes, so from their fresh fish listing, I chose the Grilled Teriyaki Ahi plate…
Fresh Grilled Teriyaki Ahi. $11.50
This HUGE slab of Ahi steak , measuring about a full hand span, had to have been at least 12 ounces. At least. Certainly kudos to the chef for knowing just how much to sear and cook this cut of fish without drying it out. It was wonderfully moist and fresh-tasting (not frozen), with a nicely-seared crust on the outside for texture and flavor contrast. It was plated with a bowl of Tentsuyu and daikon oroshi tempura dipping sauce, which added further moisture and flavor. Just excellent.
A fresh and tender bite of grilled Teriyaki Ahi
The fresh fish dishes include a side dish of miso soup and tsukemono (pickled vegetables) and your choice of white or brown rice, mashed potato or french fries. I opted for brown rice, which I barely touched due to the massive quantity of fish I had to finish!
Tsukemono and Miso Soup accompaniment
Other catch of the day options included garlic ahi, misoyaki butterfish, salmon and various reef fish such as Akule, Manini and Taape.
Diner “C” ordered their popular Chinese Chicken Salad…
Chinese Chicken Salad – Shoyu chicken, char siu, won ton chips, Chinese parsley, and peanuts on a bed of crisp lettuce laced with our Special Sesame Seed Dressing! $9.59
During the hour or so we spent there, I witnessed at least 5 of these popular salads brought to various tables around the establishment. It’s accompanied by a sweeted sesame-based dressing..
Kenny’s Special Sesame Seed Dressing
The large-portioned salad can be enjoyed either alone as entree or shared amonst your table as a side salad for everyone. Diner “C” made an interesting comment in that she thought the chicken was actually Kalua Pig, as it has a sort of smoked flavor to it. She likened the dressing’s flavor to the Oriental Sesame Oil Dressing sold at Costco, although, you can tell Kenny’s makes their own. Overall she really enjoyed it, although she could only finish half of it and took the rest home for later.
Diner “A” chose the Teri Beef King sandwich…
Teri Beef King (open-faced) sandwich – Served open faced on a toasted sesame seed bun with lettuce, tomato, a pickle spear & fries. $7.59
Diner “A” really raved about this one, saying the teriyaki beef was exceptionally moist, tender and flavorful, also commenting how he liked the fries. Something he’d reorder on his next visit.
Diner “E” ordered the Rueben sandwich…
Rueben Sandwich – Thinly sliced corned beef on grilled rye with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, 1000 island dressing, a pickle spear & fries.
Diner “E” commented that the 1000 island dressing had a pronounced flavor to it, giving the sandwich a unique flavor profile. Overall he enjoyed it, also giving a thumbs-up to the fries along with it (hey, that IS important!). For that photo, I should’ve asked him to prop the sandwich up over the fries so you can see the inside, but were hungry and too hurried to think about that!
Being the local boy Diner “E” truly is, he had to order a side of Fried Rice go accompany his sandwich and fries!…
Kenny’s Fried Rice (side dish). $2.25
I tried a small sample and gotta’ say… this is some ONO fried rice!
The lunch specials of the day on our visit was Stuffed Cabbage or Spaghetti with Meatballs. We also took notice to the “Early Bird” special, which was $3.00 off all dinner entrees.
The prices across the menu have apparently gone up significantly based on recent online reviews, which might be hard to swallow for larger families watching their budget. This was especially noticed by Diner “E” who used to be a regular here when he lived in the area. It’s still within par for the course though.
See their website at www.kennysrestaurant.com for the complete menu.
We were promptly seated upon arrival and the staff did a great job taking our order, filling our glasses, bringing our food and removing dishes all in a timely manner.
There’s so many tempting dishes to want to come back and try more, which hopefully we’ll do again. We all agreed it was a great lunch at Kenny’s Restaurant.
In closing, let’s all sing together their famous old school advertising jingle!…
“Kenny’s… at the Kam Shopping Center in Kaliheee”
Kamehameha Shopping Center
1620 N. School St.
Tasty Island rating: