Kaka’ako Kitchen, located in the midst of the Ward Centers shopping district, bills itself as “gourmet plate lunch” haven. “Plate lunch” is a distinctly local term in Hawaii, basically referring to a combo-meal, usually consisting of an entrée and two sides (those two sides are frequently rice and macaroni salad).
It does appear that the food (both in quality and presentation) is (what I would refer to as) upscale casual.
The restaurant uses a cafeteria style set up, where customers line up at a counter to place an order. They issue the customer an order number, and when the number is called, the customer receives the order is styrofoam containers. Then customer helps himself to disposable cutlery, napkins, and various condiments at a serving station.
There’s a small indoor dining room (seats about 20) and an expansive covered outdoor dining patio (seats about 50)
We ordered the pork chops with onion sauce
This is a two pork chops, breaded and deep-fried, smothered with gravy and crispy fried onions, and served over stuffing (not visible in the photo). We ordered brown rice and green salad as side dishes. The pork is very good, well prepared, well seasoned, with a rich gravy and delicious herbed stuffing. The salad was crisp and fresh, with a light sweet tangy dressing.
We also had the tempura battered catfish
This is two fillets of catfish, dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried to a light crisp, served with a tempura dipping sauce. This was really well prepared fish. It was cooked through, well seasoned, moist and delicious, with a lightly crispy batter….mmmmmm.
Since it is a cafeteria style set up, the service is pretty minimal.
A word of caution, while dining outside on the patio is very nice, be warned that the birds in the area have become very accustomed to humans, and can be somewhat aggressive trying to get some of your meal. We had to shoo them away quite frequently.
Kaka’ako Kitchen is a worthwhile stop, its excellent quality/value for the price.