197 N. Market St., Wailuku
There is no Chinese food on Maui.” I hear that all the time, though honestly I don’t know why. We have lots of Chinese food. Maybe not a lot of the typical, sit-down restaurants that offer delivery, and there’s no Chinatown. But we definitely have Chinese food. The newest addition is King’s Chinese Restaurant and BBQ, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Wailuku.
Located near the intersection of Mill and Market in the spot that used to be Rosa’s Mexican Cantina (and long ago a rockin’ bar called Molina’s), the restaurant is bright and cheerful. Little touches of Rosa’s remain, including the giant red roses painted on the bathroom walls and the tables and chairs. There are a row of windows across each side of the building, giving you a nice breeze and lots to look at.
King’s menu has plenty of local favorites, Asian style barbecue and, of course, Chinese food. If you come in the morning and are expecting a Chinese breakfast, think again. Instead, they have a budget-friendly $2.99 breakfast special featuring corned-beef hash, two eggs and a scoop of rice. The other breakfast items are also reasonable; you can get grilled ham and cheese, B.L.T.s, pancakes or French toast, all for under $6. Breakfast starts at 6am.
My first trip to King’s was to grab some take-out for lunch. The chicken katsu was generous and the cutlets were crispy. It’s served in the white-food fashion with white rice and macaroni salad. I also tried the wontons, little deep-fried chinese pastry pockets filled with minced pork and vegetables, served with a hot-pink sweet and sour sauce. The fried food indulgence wasn’t disappointing.
The next time I popped in for a sit-down lunch and opted for the BBQ chicken and char siu fried rice. King’s serves its dishes on rectangular lacquerware, a nice touch. A generous serving of boneless marinated thigh meat barbecued with the skin on is served with macaroni salad and rice. The marinade flavor is different from other local BBQ joints—a little less sweet but still delicious. I’d love it if there was a green salad option. Though, since I didn’t eat the macaroni salad, it came home with leftovers and made dinner for my daughter, who loves it. (She gave King’s version two greasy thumbs up.) The fried rice was also excellent, as was the char siu; the rice featured generous portions of veggies and egg and looked enticingly colorful on its lacquer platter.
Though you’ll have no problem placing an order, it’s worth noting that the English here is minimal. Although, when eating at a Chinese place, that’s just fine with me.