Posts Tagged ‘California roll’

Tokkuri Tei – Revisited

January 1, 2011
Tokkuri Tei – The Izaka-ya to Die-ya For | Tokkuri Tei – Revisited

Whenever anybody asks me where my favorite restaurant is, I always say “Tokkuri Tei” without any hesitation. Some will nod in approval because they’ve been, while others are curious because they haven’t. For the latter, I usually like to send them a link to an article I wrote about them several years ago: Tokkuri Tei – The Izaka-ya to Die-ya For because it contains the food “pr0n” that everybody gets excited over.

Recently, I was re-skimming the article and noticed that there were only 8 photos in it and I asked myself “Is that it!? Just 8 photos!?”

I’ve been to both of Tokkuri Tei’s locations dozens of times. Heck a single search for “Tokkuri Tei” on my computer box thing yields 296 items! Almost three hunny, and all I could muster up for that article was 8 measly photos? Must’ve been my rookie food blogging days. LOL!

Tokkuri Tei - The Izaka-ya to Die-ya For
Tokkuri Tei – The Izaka-ya to Die-ya For

Needless to say, an update was long overdue… So when co-owner Hideaki “Santa” Miyoshi informed me that they would be moving to a new location (their 3rd in almost 22 years), I thought it would be the perfect time to update their story (and my photo count).

On Tuesday, December 21st, I answered Santa san’s call. They needed help moving the “heavy stuff” after spending the entire previous day moving the “small stuff” over (guess he knew about the “gun” show *grin*). The plan was to move the entire Tokkuri Tei operation from their 611 Kapahulu location to their new 449 Kapahulu location and be ready to launch in one week! Whaaaat? One week!? Fo real? No can! Can! Although just 0.2 miles away, moving an entire restaurant, enormous refrigerators and all, is not an easy task as I was about to find out.

I arrived that morning to this:

Dining area inside the old Tokkuri Tei
Dining area inside the old Tokkuri Tei

Kitchen and sushi bar at the old Tokkuri Tei
Kitchen and sushi bar at the old Tokkuri Tei

I gotta admit, I got a little misty. OK, not really, but there were so many memories made there!

Then, it was time to move one of the HUMONGOID refrigerators. Lucky thing this one had wheels!

Moving the refrigerator. Why am I not helping? :P
Moving the refrigerator. Why am I not helping? 😛

With the “heavy stuff” loaded up, we headed over to the new spot (the old Sam Choy’s/Sergio’s/Ranch House above Hee Hing). I’ve honestly never been here since it was Sam Choy’s Restaurant, so I was particularly interested to see what kind of space we were working with.

Partially furnished dining area inside the new Tokkuri Tei
Partially furnished dining area inside the new Tokkuri Tei

Tokkuri Tei's other owner Kazu "Kaz" Mitake checks out his kitchen with Santa
Tokkuri Tei’s other owner Kazu “Kaz” Mitake checks out his kitchen with Santa

As you can see, it’s a fairly large blank canvas for which to paint. Thankfully, some familiar izakaya trimmings were brought in to spruce up the joint.

Japanese lanterns (chochin) waiting to be put up
Japanese lanterns (chochin) waiting to be put up

Santa went right to work putting them up.

Santa putting up the lanterns
Santa putting up the lanterns

Less than a week later (Sunday, the 26th), Santa invited me to their soft-launch party. The guest list was only around 20, but we had a very important role. We were there so that the staff could get their bearings and do a dry run before going live to the public the very next day. Here are some shots from that night.

The sign is up!
The sign is up!

Tokkuri-Tei's new interior
Tokkuri-Tei’s new interior

Hilarious display. Great photo opp location!
Hilarious display. Great photo opp location!

Most of the shikishi (signed cards) are back up!
Most of the shikishi (signed cards) are back up!

The new sushi bar. So colorful!
The new sushi bar. So colorful!

And then came the food. There was no ordering involved. It was a set menu as decided upon by the kitchen.

Enoki Bata (Enoki mushrooms sautéed in butter)
Enoki Bata (Enoki mushrooms sautéed in butter)

Yaki Tori Kushi Yaki (chicken skewers), Geso Kara Age (deep fried squid legs), and the Enoki Bata
Yaki Tori Kushi Yaki (chicken skewers), Geso Kara Age (deep fried squid legs), and the Enoki Bata

Samples of the California Roll, Unagi Cali Roll, and Baked Alaska Roll
Samples of the California Roll, Unagi Cali Roll, and Baked Alaska Roll

Asupara Bata (Butter asparagus)
Asupara Bata (Butter asparagus)

Shake (salmon) sushi
Shake (salmon) sushi

Chicken Kara Age (fried chicken)
Chicken Kara Age (fried chicken)

Bintoro Tataki (flash seared albacore tuna)
Bintoro Tataki (flash seared albacore tuna)

Ebi (shrimp) sushi
Ebi (shrimp) sushi

Yaki Nasu (Eggplant)
Yaki Nasu (Eggplant)

I gotta be honest. At first, I was a little worried. With a space that much bigger, I wasn’t sure if they would be able to keep the “hole-in-the-wall” izakaya vibe/feel. I also thought that the taste might change. Well, I’m happy to report that neither has occurred. You still feel at home in their new digs and the YUM factor was still alive and well. The true test was when I went home and shmall kine kanak attacked! All pau!

The next day (Monday, the 27th), the Official Grand Re-Opening was set to happen, but it didn’t come without some drama. Santa and crew had to wait for the health inspector to come and deliver their health permit and that didn’t happen until around 2pm, just a few hours before opening! Yikes!

But with that outta the way, Tokkuri Tei was ready for lift off! I invited a bunch of (new and old) friends to join me. Here are some sights from that night.

Well hello again Enoki Bata! :P
Well hello again Enoki Bata! 😛

There's a Spider in Da Poke
There’s a Spider in Da Poke

(Off the menu) Sugimoto Risotto, er, Seafood Risotto 8)
(Off the menu) Sugimoto Risotto, er, Seafood Risotto 8)

Note: This is my all-time favorite dish from Tokkuri Tei, hands down (it even took First Place in the “Rice-ipe” Contest – Professional Division, at the Rice Fest this past year). Problem is, it’s not on the regular menu to order. In fact, Santa is the only one who knows how to make it! With that said, I have been petitioning (ok, begging) Santa to rename it from the mundane “Seafood Risotto” to the more catchy, and, dare I say, exciting “Sugimoto Risotto“! Ahahaha! While we’re at it, maybe we can convince him to make it a regular item on the menu. Muhahahaha! A fella can dream right? But fo’ real, I think this one would seriously sell like hotcakes! Or should I say Sugimoto Hotcakes? 😛 Guess that doesn’t have the same ring to it…

Stuffed Portobello
Stuffed Portobello

Packed house
Packed house


Here’s an artsy panoramic video Clayton Wakida shot from his iPhone

Group shot: Jason Kim (@turkeyboy808), Lee Kojima, Leanne Nakamura, Matt Duffy (@Shogunai_Tacos), Mai Sugimoto, me, Santa Miyoshi, Kelli Nakama, Rick Nakama (@RickNakama), Clayton Wakida (@jarofclay73) and Mari Taketa (@NonStopMari)
Group shot: Jason Kim (@turkeyboy808), Lee Kojima, Leanne Nakamura, Matt Duffy (@Shogunai_Tacos), Mai Sugimoto, me, Santa Miyoshi, Kelli Nakama, Rick Nakama (@RickNakama), Clayton Wakida (@jarofclay73) and Mari Taketa (@NonStopMari)

What an awesome night with great friends and ono eats…

But wait! *screeeeech* You think it’s ova don’tcha? No way Jose! I still get choke photos fo’ share! 🙂

Teriyaki Cream Tofu
Teriyaki Cream Tofu

Ama Ebi (raw shrimp) with deep fried head
Ama Ebi (raw shrimp) with deep fried head

Cajun Ahi Salad
Cajun Ahi Salad

Salmon Skin Salad
Salmon Skin Salad

Sunagimo Kara Age (Deep Fried Chicken Gizzards)
Sunagimo Kara Age (Deep Fried Chicken Gizzards)

(Off the menu) Lilipuna Poke
(Off the menu) Lilipuna Poke

Ika Yaki (Squid Pancake)
Ika Yaki (Squid Pancake)

Ahi Tempura Poke
Ahi Tempura Poke

Nori-chos (Nori Nachos)
Nori-chos (Nori Nachos)

Soft Shell Crab Kara Age
Soft Shell Crab Kara Age

Salmon Dynamite
Salmon Dynamite

Hideaki Santa Miyoshi invites you to visit their new location
Hideaki Santa Miyoshi invites you to visit their new location

Wow! 40 photos this time around… Take that 8 photos! 🙂

Tokkuri-Tei Restaurant
449 Kapahulu (the old Sam Choy’s/Sergio’s/Ranch House, above Hee Hing)
Honolulu, HI. 96815 (Street View)
(808) 732-6480 <— NEW Telephone Number!

P.S. Happy New Year Everyone!
P.P.S. Omedetou Santa san!

Tokkuri Tei – The Izaka-ya to Die-ya For | Tokkuri Tei – Revisited

Kau Kau Kauai

September 1, 2006

Part I | Part II | Part III

OK, so you guys aren’t big on exercise… I get it.

My attempt to foray from my usual food-related columns to an “outdoorsy”-type last month garnered five measly comments all month (four in the last half of the month). It got just as much action as one of my nerdy, computer related pieces before I transitioned to the grindz.

Well, it’s either that, or you are madly in love with me and all of my columns and are just more vocal about the ones with the eats. Yeah, I like that excuse… I think we’ll use it!

OK, you little democratic peeps, you have spoken. Starting this month (and continuing for at least another month or two), I will be covering some of your favorite eateries from our Garden Isle… Kauai.

For one reason or another, I’ve been making many, many trips to the island of Kauai in recent history. Whether it be for business, a wedding at the spectacular Princeville or just for the sheer heck of it, your boy has been racking up the mean mileage. But whatever the occasion, I made sure to equip myself with the trusty camera to capture the moments in time and food for y’all.

To make the most of your day, I would suggest booking an early AM flight to Lihue (if you’re a resident of Kauai, just meet us at the airport and we’ll go get breakfast together). Since we’ll be arriving early, it’ll be perfect timing to pick up our car and head north towards the nearby, and local favorite Tip Top Motel & Cafe.

Tip Top Motel & Cafe Sign
Tip Top Motel & Cafe Sign

Paraphrasing a bit from their pamphlet, here’s a little history on the gem that has been serving the people of Kauai for more than 85 years:

Tip Top originally started as a Cafe & Bakery in November of 1916 by Denjiro Ota, and soon starting baking and delivering fresh bread island wide. In 1925, Denjiro’s creative son Mitchell the took over the business where he introduced pastries, pies and other baked goods that were to become the mainstay of the business. One is the famous pancake recipe which is still used today and another is the Macadamia Nut cookie which was the first Macnut cookie made in Hawaii.

In 1965, Mitchell moved the business a half mile to its present location and built a restaurant, bakery, 34 room motel and a bar. In 1989, Mitchell passed away at the age of 85, leaving the business in the hands of his 30 year old grandson Jonathan, the 4th generation of Otas to run the business.

Tip Top is known for their famous banana/macadamia pancakes, Macadamia nut cookies, and their best seller, the Oxtail soup, but since we’re here for breakfast, let’s get eatin’!

(! – As always, get here early or come during semi-off-peak hours as it’s always crowded, though I’ve been here twice and there was no wait on both occasions…)

Tip Top Cafe morning crowd
Tip Top Cafe morning crowd

Rather than the traditional hand over the shoulder technique, the wait help at Tip Top cutely rolls your order to you on a tray on wheels type contraption.

Meal on wheels
Meal on wheels

On this occasion, we skipped the popular banana/macadamia pancakes and went straight for the hefty items, scrambled eggs, corn beef hash & hash brown, and Loco Moco.

Corn beef hash and eggs with hash brown
Corn beef hash and eggs with hash brown

Loco Moco
Loco Moco

Yum! Another successful morning at Tip Top. Next stop… Waimea Brewing Company.

Tip Top Motel & Cafe
3173 Akahi Street
Lihue, HI 96766 (map)
(808) 245-2333
Open 6:30am-10pm Daily
tiptop@aloha.net

Now that we’ve got the most important meal of the day in our tummies, we should be energized to do something that involves exercise. What do you say? Yeah, I know, not your cup of tea, but c’mon, we’re on vacation! We’re supposed to be doing activities galore. OK, ok, what if I promise more good eats afterwards? I knew I’d getcha with that! 🙂

So let’s head west and do the touristy thing by checking out the Waimea Canyon Lookout.

Waimea Canyon Lookout sign
Waimea Canyon Lookout sign

Since this is a column on food, I’m not going to get too deep into describing the canyon (you can Google it and find all the info you need), but we do have time to kill until lunch, so let’s just pretend you’re with me on this virtual tour of sorts a-ight? 😉

Waimea Canyon lookout
Waimea Canyon lookout

Whew! What a drive huh? And how about that view? I bet you’re hungry for lunch now huh? Well, I’ve got just the place for you! Let’s hit the “World’s Westernmost Brewpub”, the Waimea Brewing Company Restaurant.

Waimea Brewing Company sign
Waimea Brewing Company sign

The Waimea Brewing Company is the self-proclaimed, westernmost pub in the world. To get here, you would drive down that exhausting, winding Waimea Canyon Road, and, instead of turning left to head back towards town, you’d actually take a right (at the West Kauai Technology & Visitor Center). Waimea Brewing Co. will be on your left.

Now I’m not condoning mid-day alcohol consumption by any means, but if you’re a beer connoisseur, you’d enjoy the home-brewed beers at this place, especially after being out in the sun for the past few hours.

Beer at Waimea Brewing Co.

The menu is quite extensive, ranging from pupus like Mango-stout BBQ Ribs and flash fried calamari rings, to entrees like “Jawaiian” Chicken and Coconut Prawns, to burgers to desserts. And this does not include their large drink menu too. On this occasion, I figured the best thing to go with my booze was their “Hawaiian Burger”, a 1/2 pound Angus burger with a thick slice of fresh pineapple & teriyaki sauce served on an onion bun.

The Hawaiian Burger, a 1/2 pound Angus burger with a thick slice of fresh pineapple & teriyaki sauce served on an onion bun
The Hawaiian Burger, a 1/2 pound Angus burger with a thick slice of fresh pineapple & teriyaki sauce served on an onion bun.

Waimea Brewing Company
9400 Kaumuali`i Highway
Waimea, Kauai HI, 96796 (map)
(808) 338-9733
Sunday- Thursday – 11am to 9pm
Friday – Saturday – 11am to 11pm
info@waimeabrewing.com

With our big ol’ bellies, let’s head back to town and see what else we can stuff our faces with. In my July column on Shave Ice, I mentioned Jo Jo’s Clubhouse, a popular Shave Ice hut along Kaumuali`i Highway. Since it’s on our way back, why not eh?

Jo Jo's Clubhouse
Jo Jo’s Clubhouse

Jo Jo’s Clubhouse
Mile Marker 23, Kaumualii Highway (Hwy. 50)
Waimea, Hawaii 96796 (map)
(808) 635-7615

Other notable, but highly touristy stops on the way back are the Kauai Kookie Kompany (1-3529 Kaumuali`i Highway, Hanapepe, Kauai, HI. 96716. Open M-F from 8am-4pm, and Sat and Sun from 9am-4pm. Call 1-800-361-1126 for more info), Kauai Coffee Company (Just past Eleele, on Kaumuali`i Highway, as you head toward Poipu. Open seven days a week from 9am-5pm. Call (808) 335-0813 for more info) and the Kauai Chocolate Company (Port Allen Marina Center – 4341 Waialo Road, Eleele, HI 96705. Call (808) 335-0448 for more info).

OK, so we’ve got some time to kill before dinner. What do you feel like doing? Hit Poipu Beach for some fun in the sun? Do a little shopping in Old Koloa Town? How about we split up and meet back in Kapa`a at around 6PM? Cool? Cool!

*some time later…*

OK gang. Welcome back! Did you have a good time? What’s say we hit up this joint called Lemongrass Grill Seafood & Sushi Bar?

Lemongrass Grill Seafood & Sushi Bar

Lemongrass Grill Seafood & Sushi Bar is a fairly newer establishment in the quaint little town of Kapa`a. The usual hotspot for sushi here is local favorite Kintaro’s, but to be quite honest, I liked the sushi from Lemongrass a lot better (sorry Kintaro fans!).

Editor’s Note: It was recently reported that Lemongrass Grill no longer serves sushi. I called them and they confirmed this. If anyone knows why, please use the Comment Field below to discuss.

With a menu that hinted towards influences from Japan (sushi) and Italy (pasta), the main theme (including restaurant design) was definitely Thai.

On this occasion, we started with the Asian Marinated Chicken Satay for our appetizer, and threw in a couple of sushi handrolls – the Volcano Roll (masago & katsuo bushi on a California roll with a special spicy sauce) and the Spider Roll (deep fried soft shell crab with cucumber) – for good measure.

Note: apologies for the color clarity on these photos, but the lighting at Lemongrass was not all that bright.

Asian Marinated Chicken Satay - served with green papaya salad, crispy fried noodle and spicy peanut sauce for $7.50
Asian Marinated Chicken Satay – served with green papaya salad, crispy fried noodle and spicy peanut sauce for $7.50

Volcano Roll - masago & katsuo bushi on a California roll with a special spicy sauce for $6.75
Volcano Roll – masago & katsuo bushi on a California roll with a special spicy sauce for $6.75

Spider Roll - deep fried soft shell crab with cucumber for $11.50
Spider Roll – deep fried soft shell crab with cucumber for $11.50

We then moved on to our main dishes of Guava Glazed BBQ Ribs and Sauteed Shrimp with Penne Pasta.

Guava Glazed BBQ Ribs - Baby back ribs cooked just right, basted with our guava BBQ sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob for $17.50
Guava Glazed BBQ Ribs – Baby back ribs cooked just right, basted with our guava BBQ sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob for $17.50

Sauteed Shrimp with Penne Pasta - A garlic white wine broth garnished with capers and tomatoes for $21
Sauteed Shrimp with Penne Pasta – A garlic white wine broth garnished with capers and tomatoes for $21

Lemongrass Grill Seafood & Sushi Bar
4-885 Kuhio Highway
Kapa`a, Kauai, HI 96746 (map)
Tel: (808) 821-2888 or (808) 822-2288
Fax: (808) 822-1221

As mentioned before, an alternative in close proximity to Lemongrass is the local favorite Kintaro Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar (4-370 Kuhio Highway). Another somewhat new establishment is Wahooo (not misspelled) Seafood Grill & Bar, but I did not have a good experience there (rude host, costly and questionable food).

So we’ve gone an entire day with breakfast in Lihue, lunch and a sweet snack out in Waimea, and dinner in Kapa`a, and are almost ready to head back to our crib (hotel or otherwise) for some shut eye. Before we hit the hay though, let’s go for a little nightcap at a local hangout called the Lizard Lounge Bar & Grill in the Waipouli Town Center in Kapa`a.

Lizard Lounge Bar & Grill

With dart boards, video games, pool tables and a full bar, hanging out for hours at the Lizard Lounge is not hard to do. They’re open nightly until 2am. Go check um out!

Lizard Lounge Bar & Grill
Waipouli Town Center
4-771 Kuhio Highway
Kapa`a, Kauai, HI 96746 (map)
Tel: (808) 821-2205
Email: lizardlounge@kauai.com

OK, now we’re really ready for some shut eye. Let’s get our rest so we can start early tomorrow morning (a.k.a. next month’s column) for more eating adventures in Kauai.

No worries gang… I haven’t forgotten about the local favorites like Hamura’s Saimin, Brick Oven Pizza, Ono’s Family Restaurant, and much more! We’ll see each other “bright and early” to cover those and many more in Kau Kau Kauai Part 2.

Part I | Part II | Part III