By Katlin Cilliers | Staff Writer
Whenever I want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Waikīkī and try local, inconspicuous restaurants, I explore Kapahulu Avenue. In the area, hidden in a small parking lot between a Chinese restaurant and a tattoo parlor, I recently found a little gem. My Kitchen is a gourmet food truck that promises to impress customers and delight the palate with its Mediterranean dishes.
Last Wednesday, between study sessions and work projects, I watched the sun setting over the greens of Waikīkī Golf Course as I waited for my food. The busy avenue is perfect for people watching; passers-by cheerfully greeted the chef, Sharif Wagdy, as they would a long-time friend.The chill, laid-back atmosphere captivated me, created by the long picnic tables that rested in the shade of large red umbrellas. Long tables facilitate mingling, as people can share seats, maybe strike up a conversation, and why not, make new friends.
The menu included a few safe bets, such as burgers and pasta, but also offered ethnic and Mediterranean food specials, such as souvlakis, gyros and lamb shank. Wanting to try something typically Greek, I went with the beef gyro.
About 10 minutes after ordering, I was presented with the dish: served in a simple bar-style, plastic basket, and topped with fresh vegetables, the gyros was quite aromatic. For those who haven’t tried it yet, it is a Greek-style sandwich, where lamb – in this case, beef – is served inside a type of flatbread called pita.
Sharif added his personal style to the sandwich by serving beef on a bed of tzaziki, the greek sauce made of yoghurt and spices. Freshly cut vegetables, such as onions and tomatoes made for a crunchy and refreshing topping, which contrasted well with the warmth and tenderness of the beef. It was well spiced with herbs. Since I prefer my food on the saltier side, I added some salt to it.
The gyros was served with a generous side of French fries, coated in what seemed to be black pepper and some garlicky dry rub. I felt some heat, but nothing unbearable.
The highlight of the dish was the chef’s homemade sauce, which he claims to be a secret recipe. I used it to dip my French fries and even asked for an extra side to put on the sandwich.
While I ate, Sharif came over to chat. I asked him about his inspiration and influences to come up with a Mediterranean food truck. He shares that, being born in Athens, Greece, and raised in Eastern Europe, he grew up eating and cooking Mediterranean food. After having worked for big names such as the Four Season hotels all around the world, he and his wife decided to move from San Francisco and explore new possibilities in Hawaii.
“When I welcome our guests, [it] is almost like welcoming them [to] my kitchen back home. That’s how I want to make them feel.”
Oʻahu’s big names in Greek food, such as The Olive Tree and Greek Marina, have got some healthy competition. My Kitchen, located at 471 Kapahulu Ave., is open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.