A Very Pleasant Surprise at Don’s Chinese Kitchen.

Don's Chinese Kitchen, Kamuela, Hawaii

We were hungry today. Imagine that. We find it happens a few times each day. Some days more than others. On this particular day we had driven to the grocery store at Parker Shopping Center to pick up a couple items and take some photos. While taking pictures Leise said there was a restaurant she had recommended to her by three friends. So we ventured there.

When she told me about the place I was concerned for her sanity. She said it was a restaurant which served Chinese food. I was not concerned about that. We both know we both love Chinese food. The questions of her sanity came when she told me the restaurant was in the Food Court of a strip mall. Now, I have seen many great  restaurants. But in a food court?  In a strip mall?  Never before had I heard of such a thing. Daringly we walked in to the food court and approached the restaurant, Don’s Chinese Kitchen.

We were greeted by a very warm and friendly women. We each ordered a 3-item sampler plate so we could have the greatest diversity and share and try 6 items from the menu/hot bar. It all looked good enough. But this was a Food Court… in a strip mall. They seldom have good food and never have great food.  I married my wife because she is a retired gourmet chef. I sure hope we can trust her friends opinion of what is good food.

Upon placing the first bite of the salted pork in my mouth I knew we made a excellent choice and her friend’s opinions were to be trusted. The skin on both the pork and the duck were crisp and sweet like candy. The meat within was tender and juicy, melting in your mouth and leaving you feeling a sense of joy and pleasure well after the food was past your palette. With the second bite my eyes closed and I savored it like I have not savored chinese food in a while. As I swallowed the flavors still dancing on my tongue, I was swept to a different state of nirvana. This was just the first couple bites.  Could the rest be as delicious?  Will the chicken or the beef disappoint us and be their Achilles heel?

The egg foo young was an explosion of flavor in our mouths. It was a mix of subtle flavors, which again defied the expectations associated with the location. As we continued through the noodles, rice, steamed buns, chicken, beef, hand made moochi, and more we were not disappointed. We asked to speak with the owner as we wanted to give our compliments to the chef. Out stepped Alice and Sonny the owner/chefs and creator of the wonderful flavors. Originally from Canton, China they share something very special with everyone who graces their business with curiosity or loyalty. When we shared with them how impressed we were with the food they serve they lit up like the proud parents who just saw their child walk, score a touchdown, or graduate college. We told them we walked in curious and walk away loyal locals who will be back regularly.

If you are in the Waimea area of the Big Island of Hawaii and you are looking for some surprisingly excellent Chinese food go to Parker Shopping Center in the Food Court and try Don’s Chinese Restaurant. You too will be very pleasantly surprised.

Aloha,  James Christopher




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