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Thursday, February 28, 2013

New: Chez Kenzo Bar and Grill

Left to right: Onion and pine nut salad, ja ja nasu, ume pasta.

The former co-owners of Genius Lounge in Waikiki have brought their eclectic, Japanese-leaning, fusion comfort food to more local, sports bar-style digs in the former Verbano space on King St.

The menu is over 100 items long. It runs the gamut of kimchee hiyayakko (silken tofu topped with kimchee and sesame oil) to uni pasta to a shaved onion and pine nut salad (terrific if you love onions, which are rinsed to take out some of the bite, leaving behind sweetness). The list is overwhelming, but if you ask, the manager, Ken Kawasaki, former Genius Lounge co-owner, will help guide you through the menu that reads like a stream of consciousness from a hungry and drunk chef. (Kawasaki says they're working on organizing it better and perhaps trimming it down.) 

Items like the ume pasta (pleasantly tart and sweet from pickled plum) and ja ja nasu (eggplant topped with a Chinese-style pork and black bean sauce) are deliciously comforting on their own, and even better paired with sake. Chez Kenzo has probably the most generous pours of sake in town. (And only $5 during happy hour, from 5 to 7 p.m.)

Genius Lounge favorites like pumpkin and bacon, fried cream cheese poke, and Joy of Sake favorite, creamy mentaiko mayo pasta, are here, in larger portions, now that Kawasaki and chef Kenzo Tokeshi are catering to locals. Desserts are new, and the "original parfait," is a delightful concoction of cornflakes, green tea and vanilla ice cream, mochi, azuki and more, like a Japanese take on halo halo. The menu may seem scattered, but execution of it is not.

Dishes $6 (onion and pine nut salad) to $20 (sauteed foie gras)
Chez Kenzo Bar and Grill, 1451 S King St., 941-2439

Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2013 in Permalink

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About This Column

From five-star restaurants to hidden holes-in-the-wall, Biting Commentary will let you know what’s hot and what’s not. Find out the latest restaurant news—who’s opening, who’s closing, which chef is moving on, where the great special dinners are. Discover the best menu items, fabulous wines, stunning cocktails, hand-crafted beers. Be the first to hear about upcoming food events and festivals.

Food editor Martha Cheng graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in Computer Science and English. She's a former line cook, food truck owner, Peace Corps volunteer and Google techie. Follow her on Twitter @marthacheng.


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