Tara Lee, our resident food critic, is on vacation this week, so we here at MAUIWatch thought we would send out a couple of ‘mystery diners’ to keep the local eateries honest. Let’s just say these folks know food like no other. We decided to send them out for lunch at the Filipino eatery, ‘Juan’s Kitchen.’
The Filipino community is rich on Maui, they work hard to get their piece of the American dream they couldn’t achieve in the homeland. Few communities work as hard and contribute to society like the Filipino people. One of the Filipino community tastiest contributions happens to be their eateries and although Juan’s Kitchen is one of many, they happen to stand out.
Once walking into the restaurant on Market St. in downtown Wailuku, you’ll notice the unique layout of Juan’s Kitchen. There is anywhere between 10 and 12 tables and when you descend down the stairs to the first floor you are greeted with a welcome that few eateries can duplicate because it’s honest and they appreciate your patronage. The food is presented ‘cafeteria style’ where you see the food and it entices you to ask what the selection is for that day. The selection of food is about 8 to 10 dishes of the day. Some may say that so few selections could be a problem, but we look at fewer selections and see a chef who is interested in quality instead of quantity.
My partner and I got a lunch plate each. There is a selection of 1 to 3 choices and the prices are decent and range from $7 to $9. Selections for lunch start with a choice of rice, pansit, or both. I picked rice and pansit, Igado (a vinegar based pork dish with garbanzo beans), chop steak in gravy, and Dinuguan (a pork dish that is cooked in the pork’s blood). My partner did a garlic chicken and crispy pork dish aka: Chicarrones.
The food was absolutely delicious. Each dish was unique and tasted quite fresh. The standout on my plate was the Igado. The pork was tender with a wonderfully aromatic vinegar flavor. After I devoured the Igado dish I wanted to go back for seconds. My partner’s stand out dish was the garlic chicken because it was crispy and tasty without the garlic becoming overpowering. Suffice to say, we cleaned our plates without hesitation.
Juan’s Kitchen for these two food critics is an establishment we will be making return visits to. The service is fast and friendly and the food is authentic and quite delicious. If you only have 30 minutes for lunch you can’t go wrong with Juan’s Kitchen.