Kahai Street Kitchen: Ocean Scallops 'n Kalbi


Kahai Street Kitchen – Deep Fried Ocean Scallops: Dusted With Furikake and Shichimi & Sun Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce, Tossed Green Salad and Brown Rice, $8.95

Falling under the “Hana Hou” category (loosely translated as  “one more time” or “encore” in Hawaiian), yesterday we returned for some Aloha Friday lunchtime grindz from Kahai Street Kitchen, which has now become a regular favorite of ours.

As you see by the plate shown above, I decided to try their Deep Fried Ocean Scallops, which are dusted With Furikake and Shichimi & served with Sun-dried Tomato Tartar Sauce. This is one of their specials of the day, and as with many of their other offerings, this sounds like a dish that would fit right in on the menu at Roy’s, albeit at plate lunch prices. Sounds good to me!

Similar to a winning choice he made the last time from KSK, this time Diner A had da’ “onos” for the Korean Style Kalbi with Kim Chee…


Korean Style Kalbi with Kim Chee: Served with Potato Mac, $8.50

It’s kinda’ funny to call it “Korean Style Kalbi”. That’s like saying “Hawaiian Style Laulau” or “Filipino Style Pinakbet”. I mean, if you seen Kalbi on a menu, wouldn’t you immediately assume it’s a Korean dish? I surely would, but I suppose owner/Chef Nao (Iwata) had to keep that as top-of-mind as stated on the menu for patrons, perhaps so they don’t question or become confused why it tastes a little different than Japanese style Teriyaki, as the Korean Kalbi marinade has the addition of garlic, chili pepper and sesame oil in it.

Speaking of which, check out how the generous portion of tender boneless Kalbi shortribs are just soaked in Kalbi sauce…

See that pool of char-flavored Kalbi sauce pooled on the bottom of the plate towards the back? That my friends is where the LOVE happens. Dip some of the mac sal’ in that and OMG, BLISS! We even tried dipping my deep fried Ocean Scallops in this absolutely to-die-for Kalbi sauce and it was even better than the Sun-Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce it’s served with. Awesome with the Scallops! So next time I go there, if there’s a deep-fried seafood dish, I’ll order that and request they give me this Kalbi sauce for dipping instead of whatever other sauce it is that’s on the menu. That Kalbi sauce is a winnah!

Here you can see they’re done medium to medium-rare inside…

…while also being quite tender considering the cut. Really, this is as good as boneless Kalbi gets, which is noteworthy considering this isn’t even a Korean restaurant. The only thing that could improve it would be if it actually did have the bones in, which obviously would add even more flavor.

Also check out this heaping pile of Potato Mac’ Sal’ (Macaroni Salad) they put on the plate…

…and that’s after Diner A had already dug through a little more than an eighth of it. Really, just this alone could have been a meal in itself. And it was PERFECT’: simple, cool, creamy and seasoned just right, with the addition of the fork-tender potatoes helping to “tight it up”, versus if it were only macaroni, which would probably be a little more “loose”. Great strategy and a good tip for anyone looking to make the perfect Mac’ Sal’. The addition of potatoes look to be the secret.

While the Kim Chee side dish (banchan) doesn’t look that great, in flavor Diner A said it was actually spot-on, having all the flavor and texture elements of a good Kim Chee. And you know me when it comes to entrees: I MUST have the proper sides to make my meal complete. Wouldn’t wanna’ have it any other way. Hawaiian food MUST be accompanied with POI. Japanese food MUST be accompanied with Tsukemono and Miso Soup, and Korean food MUST be accompanied with Banchan, or at the very least, KIM CHEE!

Summing it up, Diner A gives Kahai Street Kitchen’s “Korean Style” Kalbi with Kim Chee a rock solid 4 SPAM Musubi rating. From what I tasted from his dish, I concur.

Now let’s have a taste of them Deep Fried Ocean Scallops…


Deep Fried Ocean Scallops: Dusted With Furikake and Shichimi & Sun Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce, Tossed Green Salad and Brown Rice

As advertised, these aren’t them tiny Bay Scallops either; they’re the jumbo-sized Ocean Scallops, a.k.a. Giant Scallops, which are coated in Panko, deep fried then dusted with Furikake, Shichimi (Japanese hot red pepper flakes) and what also looked and tasted like sauteed garlic. Yum!

Here’s a cross-cut view of the Panko-coated deep-fried Ocean Scallops…

That black thing on there is a Nori flake from the Furikake. What you can’t really tell just by looking at the photo is how tender and SWEET these babies were. I mean they practically fell apart on my fork. So good. The Sun-Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce works, but as noted earlier, if you ever order this from there, request that they substitute (or add) the Char-flavored Kalbi sauce in a container with your plate. I tell you, the flavor of the mildly clam-like, tender and sweet Scallops along with the Shoyu, ginger, garlic and sesame in the Kalbi sauce is DYNAMITE! Thanks to the creative mind of Diner A for suggesting we try that!

See, mixing dishes like that is how we end up with great culinary hybrids such as Hurricane Popcorn and SPAM Musubi. Coming soon to a restaurant near you: Deep-Fried Kalbi Ocean Scallops. Ha!

Also notice how many of these giant Ocean Scallops are on the plate: 5 to be exact. So many, that it took me a “second wind” to get through all of them. The half scallop that Diner A tried ended up in the Kalbi sauce.

Continuing with the generous portions, the tossed green salad was also substantial in quantity as well, as you see it fills almost the entire area under the lid of my plate…

Judging by its appearance and the absolutely fresh, flavorful quality of it, I’m guessing these are mixed greens from ‘Nalo Farms. I remember seeing bags of this stuff for sale at Nalo Farms’ booth at the KCC Farmers Market. Very reasonably-priced, too. Good stuff.

Also very good – actually supah’ ono! – was the vinaigrette dressing it came with, which reminded me of the Parisian dressing that comes with that salad kit from Costco. The one with the crumbled cheese, dried cranberries and candied nuts included in it.  You know which one I’m talking about? Love that stuff. This had the same creamy, well-balanced kick of sweet and acidic, with all the right herbs and spices adding some groove to the party. In all its simplicity, this is probably the best tossed green salad I’ve had from a plate lunch joint yet.

Lest I not call Kahai Street Kitchen a “plate lunch joint”, as that would almost be an insult to what really are being offered here are more fit for service at a luxury resort. Just add porcelain dishware, white tablecloths and ocean views. Yet as it is, Kahai Street Kitchen is indeed disguised as a plate lunch joint, tucked away in “industrially-scenic” Kalihi Kai. lol


Kahai Street Kitchen @ 237 Kalihi Street. You enter in that door on the corner there.haa

Kahai Street Kitchen religiously posts their daily specials on their website.

Here were the daily specials on this particular visit:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kahai Street Kitchen Specials of the Day for Friday, August 22, 2009:

Garlic Chicken……………………………………………………………….….……..…$7.95
Marinated Morsels of Chicken in Our Special Sauce. Choice of White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.

Korean Style Kalbi with Kim Chee……………………….…………………….….…….$8.50
Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad. (Diner A’s choice)

Guava BBQ Pork Ribs…….…………….………………………………………………….$8.75
Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad. SOLD OUT!

Nori Wrapped Ahi Katsu…………………….……………………………….…….………$8.00
With Tri Colored Tobikko Horseradish Aioli Garnished with Radish Sprouts & Ponzu on the side. Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.  SOLD OUT!

Braised Boneless Short Rib Osso Bucco Style……………………………….…….….…$8.75
Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad .

Deep Fried Ocean Scallops……………………………………………………….……….$8.95
Dusted With Furikake and Shichimi & Sun Dried Tomato Tartar Sauce. Choice of White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad. (Diner P’s choice)

Kahai Street Combo..……….………………….……………….…………………..…….…$8.75
Hamburger Steak & Beef Curry. Served with White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.

Charbroiled Rib Steak………………………………………………………………………..$9.50
Topped with Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions Au Jus & with Guava Horseradish on the side. Choice of White or Brown Rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.

Sautéed Mahi Mahi Piccata..……………………………………………….…..……………$8.50
Served on a bed of Linguine with Garlic Bread.

Ham, Turkey & Cheese Sandwich on Whole Wheat………………………………………$5.95
Served with Tossed Salad.

Fish of the Day:
Sautéed Opakapaka with Lemon Butter & Caper Sauce…………………………..……..$9.50
Served with White or brown rice & Potato Mac or Tossed Salad.

Chocolate Mousse Cheese Cake……………………………………………………………$2.75

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I know, I know, all you ladies are gonna’ get on my case now for not ordering the Chocolate Mousse Cheese Cake. lol

As I mentioned at the start, Kahai Street Kitchen has become a regular favorite of ours, and I highly recommend – out of all the competition there may be within proximity – you seek them out for lunch if you’re in the Kalihi Kai area. The parking is limited to none, but their food is worth that obstacle. They also cater, and excel at that as well, as you may read about in several features right here on The Tasty Island.

Kahai Street Kitchen
237 Kalihi St.
Honolulu, HI  96819
Tel: 845-0320
Fax: 842-4273
Website: www.kahaistreet-kitchen.com
Business hours: LUNCH Mon ~ Fri 10:30am to 1:30pm

The Tasty Island rating (based on the two dishes reviewed above):

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related links:
Kalihi Eats: Two Plates from Kahai Street Kitchen
Catering Excellent Continues from Kahai Street Kitcen
Catering Excellence from Kahai Street Kitchen
The Catered Bento Lunch Hunt
In Kalihi, Hi-End Eats at Plate Lunch Prices – Honolulu Advertiser

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6 thoughts on “Kahai Street Kitchen: Ocean Scallops 'n Kalbi

  1. Pomai, I email Kahai regarding submitting infor. to Hawaii Gov. and to White House. The White House is still setting up their special staff. Thought the Obamas might be interesting in new talents chefs up and raising. A few months ago White House was in news blog looking for freelance chefs on asignments .

  2. Betty, I’m confident Nao and crew would do a mighty fine job serving our President, and would be just as capable as any of our high profile chefs (like oh, say Alan Wong who has already served the Obamas).

    Nao’s dishes are tasty (good word!), unique and creative, while his quality and attention to detail are top-notch. Just don’t let the “plate lunch joint” facade fool you.

  3. Thanks pomai. I’ve already written down eight joints reviewed by you i will be checking out the next time i’m in hawai’i. keep them coming.

  4. Pomai, that photo of the Kalbi Steak drove me there. It was nice and juicy. Nao and his guys should let the Hawaii Gov. know of their works. When the President stop back to Hawaii. With Kamehameha Bakery Haupia Donuts that special from Hawaii.

  5. Kelike, nice! Glad to hear this post inspired you to actually go there and sample some yourself! As a food blogger, that’s the ultimate compliment. 🙂

    Dan, yes indeed, keep Kahai Street Kitchen on your list. A highly-recommended hole-in-the-wall hidden gem.

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