Inside the quiet nook on Front Street otherwise known as the Lahaina Marketplace is a little bungalow that satisfies my craving for all things kabob. Called Kahuna Kabobs, it’s a tiny place, basically just a kitchen with an order window and a pick-up window.
It’s normally staffed with just two people—one takes orders and one whips them together. Both are very friendly, informative on the menu and they tend to make good suggestions.
For the first time kabob visitor, the menu can look a bit helter-skelter. It shows all the various salad, pupu and kabob combinations available. It takes up several boards and has lots of bright colors. People should really take the time to read all the available options before ordering. Otherwise, they might want to kick themselves for not adding an inexpensive kabob or substitute veggie side to their meal.
You name it, they’ve got it: steak, chicken, fish, shrimp, tofu, hummus, curry, chili, burgers, salads, rice, salsas, spices, sauces, dressings, cheeses, and probably some other stuff I missed. The coolest part about the menu is CHOICE. Unlike so many other restaurants, the Kahuna recognizes that culinary sovereignty lies with the customer.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, you should be able to find it here at an economical price. There’s always a $5 plate lunch, plus the Kama’aina perk of a free soda with a regular meal (Hawai’i ID required.) Pupus range in price from $4-$6.50; salads from $3.95-$6.95; burgers cost $6.95; kabobs run $6.95-$9.50 and bigger, more inclusive meals range in price from $5.95 to $11.95.
One time I opted for the Chef’s Choice, the Indian Blackened Ahi Steak Plate. It’s seared and blackened ahi tuna with what the Kahuna calls “traditional silk road spices.” They serve it sashimi-style over Molokai mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and coconut curry sauce, then top it with mango chipotle salsa and a wasabi yogurt sauce. I loved the sound of all that, except for the yogurt sauce. It was no problem, and they were more than happy to leave it off.
But for the most part, I’m an indecisive customer. On a recent visit I struggled between ordering a fresh salad with an extra tofu kabob or a grilled Indian spiced pita with babbaghanoosh. In the end, I put my faith in the creator of Kahuna’s special kabobs and ordered something completely different: the No Ka Oi chicken kabob with three scoops of brown rice and world-famous teriyaki sauce. Oh, and I traded the mac salad for steamed fresh vegetables. They only penalized me 75 cents for the exchange and it was totally worth it.
The Kahuna sure knows how to put eight inches of delicious meat on a stick, fill it with lots of flavor and then couch it on healthy rice and veggies. The experience was made better by eating on an outdoor table in the cool shade where I could look at lots of trinkets, listen to some Sublime and watch all the commotion on Front Street. MTW