I first ate at Da Kitchen when I was in Kuhului to drop my uncle off at the airport. He wanted to grab a quick bite before boarding a long flight. After he checked in and ditched his bags with the airline, we zipped from the airport to grab lunch. Being mid afternoon, we caught the end of the daily lunch hour rush. During our short wait I took stock of our colorful surroundings.
Now when I say “colorful” I’m referring to both the decorations and patrons. The walls to the right and left of the entrance are lined with booths accented by a variety of tropical colors. The walls above them are painted either salmon pink or an oceanic blue.
There are about 10 tables between the booths. As I looked around I saw many occupied by golden brown bodies darkened by years in the Hawaiian sun. Interspersed between all these Maui babes were the classic red lobsters—those who, like myself, would soon be headed to the airport. In between the brown and red bodies was a mix of doughboys who had probably just made their way from the airport, also like me.
After we were seated, my uncle quickly glanced over the menu and seemed to have no trouble deciding what to have. I, on the other hand, was overwhelmed. My options ranged from meat and fish sandwiches priced between $6.75 and $9.75, to plate lunches varying from simple Chicken Teriyaki to belly-busters like the Hawaiian that boast a combo of Pork Lau Lau, Kalua Pork, Chicken Long Rice and Lomi Salmon for $11.75.
When the waitress returned, my uncle ordered Da Kitchen Burger, an enormous hunk of beef served on a toasted onion bun with fixings and a heaping portion of potato-macaroni salad on the side all for $6.75. As for me, too intimidated by the plate lunches, I settled on a $6.75 bowl of Da Saimin.
The food was great for three important reasons, which I can easily explain. First, despite the fact that the place was really crowded, we only had to wait a few minutes for our food. Second, while the food was prepared quickly, presentation was not sacrificed at the expense of time. Third, and most important, while I had heard Da Kitchen had good grinds, my expectations were more than surpassed.
My delectable bowl of noodles came decorated with fresh veggies, teriyaki beef and was swimming in tasty hot broth. I even got a side of hot mustard, which satisfied my never-ending craving for something HOT. I could tell my uncle was equally pleased by the ferocious attack he mounted against his colossal burger.
While neither of us was able to finish our food—few do, I’m told—we did manage to leave room for dessert. In no time, the waitress delivered a heaping piece of Queen Ama cake.
It shouldn’t have been surprising that the cake had many tasty layers. Like the restaurant and its patrons, they were shades of pink, yellow, white and toasty brown. MTW