New eats: Chez Kenzo

As you know, I love Genius Lounge in Waikiki, but it’s hard to get there. You have to fight Waikiki traffic and find parking, which can be problematic when you spontaneously want to go somewhere different for a drink. I was excited to hear that Chez Kenzo was opening in my neighborhood, right in the old Verbano space on King St., so I could get all of my favorites from Genius and more.

It’s not super clear why owners Ken Kawasaki and Kenzo Tokeshi are no longer with Genius. Maybe it doesn’t even matter. It sounds like it was amicable enough; Kawasaki simply said, in philosophical Japanese style, “I planted a tree, and have taken a seed.” The new restaurant features items from Genius, plus more, in a menu that fills several pages, and the servings are slightly larger to appeal to a more local crowd. If you don’t live nearby like all the beautiful people do, you can park in the lot or on the street (free after 6 p.m.).

If you recall, the unusual menu at Genius was developed around what the owner liked to eat when he was drunk, so you won’t find dishes like this — at least, not all on one menu — anywhere else in town. Since I already knew what a lot of things tasted like from the other restaurant, I decided to try as many new things as possible with my friends.

Chez Kenzo

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Usually when you walk through the door at Chez Kenzo, the first person you’ll see is owner/manager Ken Kawasaki, at left. I found the owner/chef and namesake, Kenzo Tokeshi, in a rare moment outside.

Chez Kenzo
1451 S King St.

Chez Kenzo is currently open nightly for dinner from 5 p.m. until about 1 a.m., depending on the ebb and flow of the crowd. Kawasaki says they’re planning to open for lunch soon, and hopefully for breakfast if he can get support from tour groups. By the way, there are also several desserts, but I have always been too full by the end of the meal to try any. Tell me if they are any good!