By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

With still enough time this summer vacation, it allows busy college students to take the time to catch up with old and new friends. This past Saturday, I got together with a friend that I made in my English 271N class, who I only began getting close with by the end of this past Spring 2017 semester. With so many different places to choose to eat at, her and I decided that we try out Kakaʻako Kitchen in the Ward Village Shopping Center, to which I was surprised at how flavorful and filling my lunch turned out to be.

Located on the corner of Kamakee Street and Auahi Street, Kakaʻako Kitchen is a casual eatery that I have literally walked past by several times beforehand but have never eaten at. My friend, who hasn’t been to this place either since she has only lived here for a few years, was intrigued by some of the good reviews she’s heard about the place, leading us to check it out.

Now she has no excuse for not being familiar with this place since she isn’t a local, however, it would seem more reasonable that I should have eaten there or, at least, know of this place once. As a non-local local, I only realized the day before when I looked up the place that I would pass by it several times with my family, but I just never knew that it was called Kakaʻako Kitchen.

Stunned by this revelation, I was eager and looking forward to our get together even more. However, I wasn’t expecting that it would become complicated after looking at the menu, which is quite extensive and evident upon entry. With so many things to chose from, I caught myself in awe as I stared at the menu with a jaw dropping expression.

Kakaʻako Kitchen separates its menu into specific categories such as salads, sandwiches and burgers, KK classics, and more which help new and returning customers to have an easier time in determining what they will order. As many items that there were to cover, my eyes immediately clicked under the section of Russ’ Daily Picks, which has one plate lunch set and made for each day of the week. I was a bit bummed seeing that the Chicken Fried Chicken was only made to order on Wednesdays, however, I was pleased that a different plate lunch caught my attention under KK classics.

The Furikake Tempura Catfish, which was labeled as a must try on the menu, was set at the price of $11.75 and described to come with fillets of furikake tempura battered catfish with a choice of mac salad or green salad and white or brown rice. This made my mouth water since I have never eaten catfish before, so I didn’t know what to expect except that I had high hopes that it would be filling and portioned reasonably for the price it was going for.

We were given a table number stand, which I thought was an excellent idea that the place adopted since it allows customers to find seats to sit inside or outside without having to stand and wait on the side. It didn’t take long until our food came out — I’d say it took about 5 to 10 minutes — which were presented to us in clamshell containers. The setting reminded me of places such as L&L or Rainbow Drive-In.

Opening my plate lunch container was like bringing my journey to finding the treasure chest of the seas to an end; I could not believe how generous the portion was and the aroma that lingered around me. I was presented with two catfish fillets both a little bigger than the size of my hand along with a macaroni and potato combined salad and a scoop of steaming white rice. My friend, who ordered the Best of Both Chicken plate lunch, was also given a filling portion for the same price as mine.

The catfish was tender and just right in temperature; it was basically like fish and chips but better with furikake coating the outside. The ponzu sauce that came with it also complimented the fillet well with a tangy soy flavored taste. As I ate, the sound of my mom saying “you won’t be disappointed ” rang in my head, to which I couldn’t have agreed more with.

With my first time at this place resulting in an amazing and extremely delectable experience, I would definitely make it a point to return to Kakaʻako Kitchen for another “local” appearance.