I am a plate lunch girl. And many of the small mom-and-pop shops of my youth have gone the way of gentrification. So I am really excited when I find a spot that fits that plate lunch bill—local folks making local food their own style, for the local palate, that everyone can enjoy. Local food is not Hawaiian food, it is not Asian, it is not just one cuisine. It really is the melting pot of humble comfort food that we crave but made with vibes of grandma’s kitchen. In Napili, I love to grab my plates at Joey’s Kitchen. Here, Chef Joey Macadangdang, who comes from a fine dining background at Roy’s for many years, has elevated local favorites with his own flair. He is also Filipino, so there are plenty of fabulous Filipino favorites alongside popular local choices, and a touch of modern gastro pub items that make up his incredible menu.
“A lot of it is my training and background,” Macadangdang said. “It’s all about being affordable but it has to be executed well and be a good product. That is my focus. With the addition of being Filipino, I want to add my home cooking. Tourists are just getting to know Filipino dishes, so now you see them eating adobo, lumpia and pancit too.”
Joey’s Kitchen has a little alfresco dining patio with umbrellas for socially distanced noshing. Order inside at the counter and then take a seat. They have plenty of beverages as well as beer for a boozy option. It is really casual and usually warm on the lanai. The inside of the restaurant is small with limited seating as well. There are plenty of beaches nearby to forge a picnic if you take your meal to go.
I have to be honest, I have not veered towards his sandwiches, sirloin burger, kalua pork, and fresh seared fish options, because I am still working my way through all the local favorites. The saramsam snack menu features pork lumpia that is magical, we are always fighting over who gets to eat the last one in my family, same with his Piniritong Fried Brussel Sprouts in parmesan dressing. For starters, there are also Ginisang Manila clams, poke, fish tacos and curry kale Caesar.
They have a mean chow fun and their pancit is delicious, made with shrimp, carrots, cabbage and mushroom. They have a Malunggay Pancit with moringa puree that I am excited to try. Other delicious carbs include the adobo or house fried rice. Joey’s Kitchen has a good selection of seafood and fish plates like fish and chips, peel and eat garlic shrimp, and lemongrass salmon. I adore the seafood sinigang, with tangy tamarind broth, clams, shrimp, fish and veggies, served with a side of steamed rice.
The local favorites included in his menu do not skip a beat either. The garlic chicken comes as bite size pieces with a sweet soy glaze served with a Sriracha aioli for dredging, plus rice and mac salad. The lechon is divine, seasoned and crispy pork belly. They have short ribs, loco moco, kalua pork and cabbage, and short ribs. The Crispy Pata, a deep fried pork knuckle, is a perfect sharable plate served with spicy vinegar. You pick the meat bits off the bone, dip, wash down with a beer, and repeat.
I know this all sounds very carnivorous, but Joey’s Kitchen welcomes vegetarians. It is by no means a vegetarian place but it has lemongrass tofu and tofu curry with rice noodles. Many of the dishes can be ordered gluten free and nut free as well.
“The favorites are garlic shrimp, garlic chicken and pata,” said Macadangdang. “But the seared fish on the red curry rice noodles is popular because it’s so versatile. I can make that dish vegan, gluten free or vegetarian.”
Joey’s Kitchen also has a counter at the Whalers Village food court. You can get your plate lunches or a grab-and-go bento from 9a.m to 2p.m.
“A lot of restaurants closed down that couldn’t get back up during the pandemic,” Macadangdang said. “There is a variety of what we could do during the pandemic and what we kept pushing and trying new things. We experimented with sushi Friday, prime rib Thursday and tried to bring more people here to eat and that made us consistently busy. Now, we are too busy, so we are back to our main menu.”
Macadangdang is working on a new restaurant called Macadangdang Bar and Grill that will be at the Ka‘anapali Fairway Shops. There he will reveal even more of his Filipino Hawaiian fusion.
“Traditional is traditional,” he said. “Right now it’s all about fusion.”
Photo Credit: Sean Hower
5095 Napilihau Street, Napili
Whalers Village, Ka‘anapali
Lunch, Dinner, $$