Posts Tagged ‘japanese restaurants’

Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – March 2, 2011

March 2, 2011

Happy March gang! How’s the first quarter of the year treating y’all so far? I hope good!

Aside from an irras cough that doesn’t wanna go away, I’m almost 100% back from my fever/chills/cold from last week. No worries, I’m not contagious… I think. Wait a minute… Is that why there wuz only 20 something of you commenting last week? Hmmm… Hehe!

This week, we’ve wiped the leaderboard clean (again) and made room for this week’s pic. I figgah this one might take a while das why. Go getum folks!


Photo #1
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? - March 2, 2011
Where In the Hawaii is Edward Sugimoto? – March 2, 2011

Points for Photo #1…
* Location?: 2 points
* General area?: 1 point
* Closest street(s)?: 1 point each
* Name of Dish?: 2 points
* Price of Dish? (at that time): 2 points
* Month photo was taken?: 1 point each
* Day of the month photo was taken?: 1 point each
* Year photo was taken?: 1 point each
* Exact time photo was taken?: 5 points
* Google Street View link?: 2 points


Last Week’s Results:
Congrats to newcomer honugurl79 who decided to swoop on in last week and pick up 8 easy points! Her and Coconut Willy were the big winners! Big ups honugurl and Dubbs! Also congrats to Masako for winning Round 2 of our competition! Check out da leadahboard below for da updates!

Da Leadahboard (Round 3)!

  • 08.0 – honugurl79
  • 02.0 – Coconut Willy

My New AroundHawaii Article!

Sticking with the Japanese food theme, don’t forget to read my new AroundHawaii article on two of Hawaii’s yummy Japanese lunch trucks: Yajima-Ya and Blue Truck Teppanyaki!

Yatai in Hawaii? Try Yajima-Ya or Blue Truck Teppanyaki!
Yatai in Hawaii? Try Yajima-Ya or Blue Truck Teppanyaki!


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My Blog
:: My Blog ::
(Random stuffs)
My Facebook
:: My Facebook ::
(Add a brutha! ๐Ÿ˜› )
My Job
:: My Job ::
(Road Runner Mobile)

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Have a happy VH07V Wednesday y’all! Don’t forget to post your guesses below k? Shoooots!

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Hungry for Some Soosh? How About Michinoku?

October 1, 2010

One hot summer night, the plan was to meet the ‘rents for a scrumptious Japanese dinner. Having exhausted all of our other choices for delectable Nihonjin restaurants, we suggested checking out Michinoku, as we’ve heard a lot of good things about them.

โ€ใฟใกใฎใ๏ผ๏ผŸโ€

(That’s my dad exclaiming “Michinoku!?”, at the top of his lungs, for those who can’t read Japanese. ๐Ÿ˜› )

Apparently, moms and pops used to loooooove going to Michinoku back when they were on Kalakaua Avenue, and have been utterly depressed (not really, but it adds to the drama don’t it?) since hearing of their closing. So when they heard from us that they had re-opened their doors at the (slightly) more convenient Keeaumoku Street location (across Walmart), they were down to pound and get round.

The familiar Michinoku sign outside their new Keeaumoku Street location
The familiar Michinoku sign outside their new Keeaumoku Street location

The first thing I noticed was that familiar Japanese family-style warmth. We were greeted with a hearty “Irasshaimasei” with a bow and a smile, and then welcomed to our seats in their native Japanese tongue. I know this is clichรฉ to say, but it honestly felt like I was eating at somebody’s house.

A patron getting personally helped to his seat
A patron getting personally helped to his seat

It’s a very small space with probably only about a half dozen or so tables for customers, plus the sushi bar, which matches the whole, feels-like-Japan vibe they got goin’ on.

Interior or Michinoku
Interior or Michinoku

On to the Soosh!

Moms and I ordered the Michinoku Special, which included Barachirashi, Sashimi, Kobachi, Oshinko, Chawanmushi, Salad, and Miso Soup for $16.

Michinoku Special (Barachirashi, Sashimi, Kobachi, Oshinko, Chawanmushi, Salad, and Miso Soup) - $16.
Michinoku Special (Barachirashi, Sashimi, Kobachi, Oshinko, Chawanmushi, Salad, and Miso Soup) – $16.

Although, it was quite delicious, I must admit that I was a little disappointed. I guess when I saw the word “chirashi”, I was expecting tons of fish on top of sushi rice, chirashi sushi style. My fault. I guess barachirashi is something different. I did enjoy the ikura quite a bit though. YUM!

Close up of the Ikura on top of the Barachirashi
Close up of the Ikura on top of the Barachirashi

Luckily, I also got an order of hamachi sushi on the side to fill my soosh void.

Hamachi Sushi order
Hamachi Sushi order

Pops ordered the Nigiri set, which comes in three sizes: Ume ($19.50), Momo ($26) and Sakura ($32). Don’t quite remember which one he got, but alls I know is that I was a little j!

Ume ($19.50), Momo ($26) or Sakura ($32) Nigiri Set
Ume ($19.50), Momo ($26) or Sakura ($32) Nigiri Set

Not in the mood for raw fish, wifey ordered their Salmon Teishoku, which includes Kobachi, Oshinko, Chawanmushi, Salad and Miso Soup for $14.

Salmon Teishoku (with Kobachi, Oshinko, Chawanmushi, Salad and Miso Soup) - $14
Salmon Teishoku (with Kobachi, Oshinko, Chawanmushi, Salad and Miso Soup) – $14

They also have teishokus with sashimi ($20), butterfish ($18), sanma ($13) or chicken teriyaki ($13), and other Japanese favorites like hot and cold udons, and a variety of donburis. Side orders of agedashi tofu (fried tofu), edamame (soybeans), chicken karaage (fried chicken), among others, will also tempt more than a few tummies.

So support local businesses and give the nice, Japanese family from Michinoku some love by eating there. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find my pops there randomly yelling โ€ใฟใกใฎใ๏ผ๏ผŸโ€ from time to time…

Michinoku
835 Keeaumoku St
Honolulu, HI 96814 (map)
(808) 942-1414
Hours: Mon: Closed, Tue-Sun: 11am-2pm (lunch), 5:30pm-10pm (dinner)

Great Catch! Izakaya Tairyo Reels Hawaii In

August 1, 2010

If you’ve driven anywhere near the vicinity of Piikoi Street recently, you’ve probably noticed a rather peculiar looking building fronting Hopaka Street. Covered with large kanji characters, big blue waves, and bright red fish, it’s hard to miss. And if you’re anything like me, your mouth probably started to salivate (along with your imagination) at the sight of such flamboyancy.

Izakaya Tairyo Exterior [Photo Credit: Dale Yasunaga]
Izakaya Tairyo Exterior [Photo Credit: Dale Yasunaga]

In Japan, the more nigiyaka (busy/cheerful/bright) the izakaya, the better (… at least in my experience), so seeing such a building come up in the heart of Honolulu, to be quite honest, excited me. So off my friend and I went to check it out shortly after they opened.

Literally translated, tairyo means great/large catch. When fishermen have a good day, they usually say they had a “tairyo”. As we explored in a past article, izakaya is a specific style of Japanese dining, usually consisting of small dishes of various items. So the Izakaya Tairyo name makes a lot of sense. Nigiyaka exterior – check, fitting name – check… So far so good! Let’s check out the interior.

Izakaya Tairyo Interior
Izakaya Tairyo Interior

Wow, if you thought the exterior was flashy, check out this interior. Bright lights, fishing nets, and the familiar oshinagaki (menu items) adorned the roof and walls.

Bright lights, fishing nets, and oshinagaki to the right, inside Izakaya Tairyo
Bright lights, fishing nets, and oshinagaki to the right, inside Izakaya Tairyo

Adding to the ambience, some patrons get to sit on old school, Japanese style seating made of upside-down beer crates. Wins!

Unique seating at Izakaya Tairyo
Unique seating at Izakaya Tairyo

On to the food!

At the top of their “Rice and Noodles” section was #55 on the menu: Tairyo Fisherman’s Bowl (assorted sashimi over rice) for $9.75. That sounded like a great place to start.

Tairyo Fisherman's Bowl: Assorted sashimi over rice ($9.75)
Tairyo Fisherman’s Bowl: Assorted sashimi over rice ($9.75)

The dish comes with a teapot-like container filled with dashi-flavored tea so you can opt to mix it in and eat it chazuke style. I’m a purist, so I started by eating just the fish and the rice, but gave the flavored tea a chance and ended up using it all up. Really good flavor!

One thing that we complained about was that what we were served looked nothing like what was pictured in the menu. There were key pieces of fish that were definitely missing. They did however, make good by offering us sashimi on the side (served on a chilled plate) at no additional cost.

Sashimi from Izakaya Tairyo
Sashimi from Izakaya Tairyo

The next thing that sounded interesting was the Grilled Chicken Meat Ball with Tairyo’s Secret Sauce. We picked that one up for $7.25.

Grilled Chicken Meat Ball with Tairyo's Secret Sauce ($7.25)
Grilled Chicken Meat Ball with Tairyo’s Secret Sauce ($7.25)

As before, it looked nothing like the picture in the menu, but we shook it off and figured it was just a part of their growing pains as a new restaurant.

The next two fried dishes actually did look somewhat like their menu photo (LOL!). First up was the Japanese-Style Fried Chicken Thigh.

Japanese-Style Fried Chicken Thigh ($6.50)
Japanese-Style Fried Chicken Thigh ($6.50)

These were fairly tasty.

We also got the Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Mayonnaise.

Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Mayonnaise ($6.25)
Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Mayonnaise ($6.25)

I wasn’t a big fan of this dish, especially with the odd honey sauce combination, but can definitely appreciate the creativity. The sweet potato fries by itself wasn’t all that bad.

An overall reasonable first experience in my opinion. I think we can mostly attribute the ups and downs to them being a new restaurant and still in, like I said, their growing phases. I am definitely interested in returning later to see how they’ve grown. Hopefully, it’ll be a definite “tairyo” then! ๐Ÿ™‚

Izakaya Tairyo
514 Piikoi St
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 592-8500

Don’t forget… next month…

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Rice Fest
Diamond G Rice presents the 1st Annual Hawaii Rice Festival
Waterfront at Aloha Tower Marketplace
September 11, 2010 from 12PM-8PM
For more info:
Ricefest.com / Twitter / Facebook
To RSVP:
Twtvite / Facebook Event
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Eating Your Way Through Japan – Part II

January 19, 2009
Part I |  Part II 

And… we’re… back. I know, I know, it’s been a while since part one, but no get all habuts. Takes long time fo put this together you know. ๐Ÿ™‚

We last left off sipping tea at Ito-Ya, waiting for the pops-recommended, kushikatsu joint to open up (opens at 5PM). When the clock hit 5, it was time to head over to Isomura’s in Ginza.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Isomura’s in Ginza

The general concept of kushikatsu is that you get a variety of food items, battered up, deep fried, and served to you on a stick (kushi). The secret, according to pops, is to go right when they open, as they have a happy hour special: 12 courses (items), beer, soup, rice, tea and dessert all for X Yen. Hehe, sorry, I don’t remember how much it was, but I believe it was around $20 U.S.

The jubilee of choices came in the following sequence:

  1. Beef
  2. Shi-wrapped Shrimp
  3. Shiitake Mushroom
  4. Scallop
  5. Snow Peas
  6. Corn
  7. Asparagus
  8. Shrimp/Prawn
  9. Pork
  10. Bacon-wrapped Potato
  11. Tofu
  12. Fish Eggs

Here’s a lil’ preview:

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Snow peas and corn kushikatsu

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Biggest, deep fried asparagus you’ve ever seen!

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Prawn kushikatsu

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Tofu and fish eggs kushikatsu

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
You put your stick in the fishy’s mouth after your done. We did some work son!

The next morning, we tried the other breakfast buffet option in our hotel, Taronga.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Inside Taronga Grill and Wine

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
My plate full o’ goodies

The atmosphere and food choices seemed a little higher scaled, but the options weren’t as plentiful. If I were to choose one, I’d stick with Ocean Dining.

With our fill of the Tokyo/Odaiba areas, it was off to adventure the rest of this beautiful country. We headed to Nagano, whose specialty is soba.

Since we were in the mood for rahmen yet again, we combined our hunger with Nagano’s finest and found a little shop that served soba, rahmen style.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
I wish I could read kanji better so I could tell you the name of this place. ๐Ÿ˜›

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Char siu rahmen soba

Some city browsing/touring followed and, on the way back to our hotel, we came across this neat little restaurant called Mountain Q Hawaiian Diner. Yep, that’s right, “Hawaiian” food in the middle of Japan.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Mountain Q Hawaiian Diner

Inside Mountain Q was real kitchie (sp?), with your typical hula girl and grass skirt-type decorations, but the most interesting thing was eating “SPAM nigiri” (instead of SPAM musubi) while listening to KSSK on the radio.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
SPAM Onigiri

The next morning, we woke up early to go check out what Nagano is also famous for: Oyaki, a baked, almost mochi type shell, stuffed with veggies. On the way to Zenkoji temple, you will find this town’s popular oyaki shop on the right hand side.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Popular Oyaki Shop in Nagano

Inside, there is an omiyage area, where you can buy your oyaki to go. In the back however, is where the magic happens… the area where they actually make the oyaki over an open fire. This is where we had to be.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Where the oyaki are made

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Flames for two cooking spots, one to cook the flat sides, and one to cook the edges

The family seemed to take a liking to us, as they fed us a complete meal (soup and tea) with our oyaki, and they also offered to teach us how to make them ourselves (a class usually reserved for special days).

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Our oyaki meal

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Us gettin’ our oyaki on

Then it was off to another town in Yudanaka for more adventures. We stayed at Ryokan Biyunoyado (Yudanaka View Hotel), an excellent Western style Ryokan (onsen hotel) in the middle of a town known for onsens (hot springs).

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Yudanaka View Hotel

That evening, we were treated to the hotel’s inclusive dinner, which included soup, sashimi, soba, saba, buttered beef, mushroom (straight from the bark!), fresh fruits (Nagano is also known for their apples), sake, and the local beer Shiga Kogen Pale Ale.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Our Spread

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Mushrooms, as fresh as you can get. Nuts yeah?

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Shiga Kogen Pale Ale

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel as well, which included miso soup, salad, ham, eggs, salmon, udon, and fresh apple juice.

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Our morning spread

To leave enough for part 3, I think we’ll end it here… But before we go, here’s a parting shot from Yudanaka’s famous monkey park. Yep, sending you off with a little monkey bidness. ๐Ÿ™‚

Eating Your Way Through Japan - Part II - World Wide Ed
Monkeys from Yudanaka Monkey Park

Have a fun day Monday y’all!

Part I |  Part II 

Eating Your Way Through Japan – Part I

January 4, 2009
 Part I  | Part II

[A hearty welcome to all you new World Wide Ed readers from the print world… Much love for visiting! Let’s make um a habit from now k? ๐Ÿ˜› ]

About a month ago, the brand spankin’ new wifey and I went back to the motherland for our honeymoon. ‘Twas ten days of ‘moonin bliss, complete with shopping, temples, trains, onsens, monkeys (yeah, monkeys!), snow, wedding reception #2, and, best of all… food.

I’m hoping to eventually break this out into a full-fledged review of Japan (little girl diary style ๐Ÿ˜› ), but for purposes of this blog, let’s just concentrate on the eats yo! Cool? Cool! Let’s do this!

Our first night was spent touring the Odaiba area where we stayed. We walked over to the Aqua City and Decks Tokyo Beach (Tokyo Joyopolis) shopping districts for some product-browsing and sight-seeing.

Night time view of Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba
Night time view of Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba

In the mood for some good kine Japanese rahmen, we poked around the food courts at Decks to see if anything spoke to us. Nothing did. So we took it to the streets. Awesome choice, as we ran into Yotteko-Ya Ramen. Yeah, the same one that made its way to McCully Shopping Center on Oahu.

Located on the ground floor between Decks Tokyo Beach and the Yurikamome Line (local train), the flamboyant exterior quickly catches your eye.

Outside Odaiba's Yotteko-Ya Ramen
Outside Odaiba’s Yotteko-Ya Ramen

I swear, every time we visited the one in McCully, they were sold out of their popular Paitan soup base ramen (the thick, creamy one). We’ve been there on at least 5 different occasions at 5 different times (even like 10 in the morning!), and, every single time, they were sold out. We were beginning to think that it was some kind of a conspiracy, and that they only made enough soup base for three bowls or something. We were glad to get the authentic one straight from the source.

Char Siu Ramen from Yotteko-Ya Ramen
Char Siu Ramen from Yotteko-Ya Ramen

Yotteko-Ya Ramen

Much like some Las Vegas hotel packages, the great thing about some of the hotels in Japan is that the price of the room includes meals. The next morning, we enjoyed a delicious Japanese style buffet breakfast at Ocean Dining Restaurant.

Buffet table at Ocean Dining Restaurant, Hotel Nikko Tokyo Hotel, Odaiba
Buffet table at Ocean Dining Restaurant, Hotel Nikko Tokyo Hotel, Odaiba

Our view of Rainbow Bridge during our eats was amazing!

Our beautiful view with my not so beautiful mound o' food
Our beautiful view with my not so beautiful mound o’ food

Hotel Nikko Tokyo – Odaiba

Then, it was off to see the town baby. We took the Yurikamome line to Shimbashi Station and walked to the Ginza district. There, the wife shopped at various department stores, including the (apparently *rolling eyes*) popular H&M store from America. We also found some time to snack in between.

Treats at Nenrinya
Treats at Nenrinya

Yes, we’re posers. We didn’t actually buy anything from here (if you saw the crazy lines, you wouldn’t either! ๐Ÿ˜› ), but we did capture some shots for you curious bees out there.

The line at Nenrinya
The line at Nenrinya

Nenrinya

One place we weren’t posers at was Starbucks (the Ginza Matsuya-dori store to be exact). We stopped to fill our tummies here real quick like.

Two Tall Tazo Chai Tea Lattes (ยฅ940) and one Strawberry Roll (ยฅ280). Typical Starbucks prices...
Two Tall Tazo Chai Tea Lattes (ยฅ940) and one Strawberry Roll (ยฅ280). Typical Starbucks prices…

On the wall, we noticed a sign that said “Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. The 1st Store August 2nd 1996″… Pretty cool! We’ve been to the first store in America (Seattle) and now Japan. Where’s next? ๐Ÿ™‚

Sign at Starbucks Ginza Matsuya-dori store: Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. The 1st Store August 2nd 1996
Sign at Starbucks Ginza Matsuya-dori store: “Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. The 1st Store August 2nd 1996”

Starbucks Ginza Matsuya-dori

Refueled, we caught the JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku to check out the famous Takeshita Doori. There we went to a food court and ate at the best looking option: Umaya.

Umaya
Umaya

They are famous for their Miso Fried Noodles, which I loaded up with all the toppings I could get my hands on (including Nori, Katsuobushi (dried tuna), Sansho (Sichuan pepper), and Black Pepper)!

Miso Yakisoba (Fried Noodles) from Umaya (with my bevy of sprinkles!)
Miso Yakisoba (Fried Noodles) from Umaya (with my bevy of sprinkles!)

The next day, we headed to Ueno to check out the popular Ameyayokocho shopping street.

Ameyayokocho, also known as Ameyoko, in Ueno
Ameyayokocho, also known as Ameyoko, in Ueno

This area is good for buying snack-type omiyage or produce if you were gonna whip up something yourself at home. We walked by a fresh fish/sashimi type street stand that seemed to be getting a lot of action Jackson. Perhaps, if it were lunchtime we would’ve checked it out, but, ah, next time!

The line at a popular sushi/sashimi stand in Ameyoko
The line at a popular sushi/sashimi stand in Ameyoko

Next stop: Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

The path leading to the temple is full of vendors selling anything from gifts, to good luck charms, to food.

Mall leading to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa
Mall leading to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

We ate our share of fresh snacks like kinako mochi on a stick, fresh senbei (cooked right in front of you) and red bean manju in the shape of birds.

For lack of a better name, let's call this one mochi-on-a-stick. :P
For lack of a better name, let’s call this one mochi-on-a-stick. ๐Ÿ˜›

Frying up fresh senbei and dipping it in their shoyu-sugar base. YUM!
Frying up fresh senbei and dipping it in their shoyu-sugar base. YUM!

Wifey got her hands on all the warm, an filled manju
Wifey got her hands on all the warm, an filled manju

Then it was back to Ginza for a kushikatsu restaurant recommended by pops. To kill time, we did more browsing/shopping and ended up at a neat, little Tea Lounge on the top floor of Ito-Ya (a popular paper/pen/office supply type store).

Ito-Ya Tea Lounge, Ginza, Japan
Ito-Ya Tea Lounge, Ginza, Japan

There, we rested our bones from the day’s travel, next to a hot (and cold) cup of Joe, er Tea.

Hot and Cold Tea from Ito-Ya's Tea Lounge
Hot and Cold Tea from Ito-Ya’s Tea Lounge

And that concludes Part I yo. WHEW!

Sorry, but there are CHOKE photos from the kushikatsu restaurant, so you’re gonna have to wait for those in part II. *grin*

Talk to me!
* Been to any of these hotspots yourself?
* How were your experiences there?
* Gonna check um out next time you go to Japan?
* What are the “must-trys” at the places I went to so far, but missed?
* Did I make you hungry yet? ๐Ÿ˜›

Happy New Year y’all! Hope you’re still holding strong by your resolutions this, what, 4th day into the new year. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Shoots!

 Part I  | Part II

P.S. No fo-get fo check out my latest AroundHawaii.com column:

Anuhea Jenkins - Reppin' Hawaii One Song At a Time
Anuhea Jenkins – Reppin’ Hawaii One Song At a Time

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

May 1, 2008
Tokkuri Tei – The Izaka-ya to Die-ya For | Tokkuri Tei – Revisited

Our company recently completed a weight-loss competition, in which we – depending on how serious you were – stripped ourselves of the bare essentials. For some, these “essentials” included cake, pork chops, deep fried foods, or a combination of the three. For me, it was sushi!

Twenty one “out-of-thin-air” pounds and many, luscious, raw fish dreams later, my stomach was ready to eat itself, but I maintained and did what my momma told me: I finished what I started. So when it was time to treat myself to my “first meal” of sorts, the first (and only!) place that came to mind was Tokkuri Tei, a small, izaka-ya type Japanese restaurant off Kapahulu Avenue.

Tokkuri Tei Sign
Tokkuri Tei Sign

Tokkuri Tei is, by far, my favorite “treat yourself” place to eat. With the most authentic tasting food and most realistic feeling izaka-ya vibe, it is as close to Japan that you can get without the hefty airfare.

I’ve mentioned the word izaka-ya a few times now, including in my title. Some of you are probably scratching your head asking yourself “what the heck is that buffoon referring to?” Loosely translated, the term izaka-ya in Japanese is a sake store/shop. In Japan, the term usually refers to a bar/pub that, in addition to sake (and other alcoholic drinks), serves up food, and good food at that. It’s always a popular pau hana stop for the hard working Japanese population because it’s casual and cheap, and sometimes carries unique, adventurous dishes you don’t often see anywhere else.

Teriyaki Cream Tofu - $7.50: Tofu got a French Twist
Teriyaki Cream Tofu – $7.50: “Tofu got a French Twist”

Tokkuri Tei is no different. They’ve been serving up some of the most innovative, imaginative and irresistible dishes since opening their doors at their initial location on Sheridan Street in 1989. Like their izaka-ya counterparts in Japan, when they were at this location, only a select number of us “in-the-know” knew of this relative hole-in-the-wall hot spot. Since moving to their more spacious Kapahulu location in 2000, the word has gotten out.

Tokkuri Tei’s humble beginnings started when Hideaki “Santa” Miyoshi, former manager of a Japanese restaurant named Shiruhachi, and Kazu “Kaz” Mitake, former sushi chef for Yanagi Sushi met and started a lunch wagon in Campbell Industrial Park in 1987. (Editor’s note: “Santa” explains that his nickname has nothing to do with Santa Claus. It is a Japanese name that means three times fatter than the others.)

“We were always talking about opening an izakaya type restaurant,” said Miyoshi. “In 1989, we got an investor from Japan and started Tokkuri tei. Originally we tried to name this restaurant ‘Izakaya Non’ literally ‘drinking’, since our corporation name is N.O.N. enterprises, too, but Izakaya Nonbei was open just before us. Kaz’s wife came up with this name “Tokkuri tei”. The logo represents the top view of the sake bottle in ‘masu’ (traditional square sake container).”

Too bad “Scrumptilicious” was already taken because that’s what the food here is. OK, so there’s nowhere actually named “Scrumptilicious,” but ya get the point.

Ika Yaki - $7.50: Squid pancake taste like pumpkin pie (not quite)
Ika Yaki – $7.50: “Squid pancake taste like pumpkin pie (not quite)”

It’s easy making a “drinking” place with decent tasting food, but Tokkuri Tei has taken things to another level. Part, or I should say most of the reason for their success in the kitchen is the strength of both Kaz and Santa’s culinary background.

“Kaz is a very experienced chef. He is in (the) line of cooking for 30 years and also understands (the) importance of customers’ feedback,” says Santa. “He started working at Zippy’s, Furusato, Marushin, Torigin, Ohortsuku, then Yanagi. I was working for a Japanese restaurant in Tokyo before I came here as a (restaurant) manager. But we had trouble with our chef, so I had to start cooking to maintain the restaurant. Several friends taught me how to cook including Kaz. After I left the restaurant, I worked for Kengo’s for a year as a sashimi cutter. I dealt with 400 pounds of ahi every day. Then I worked for Shogun for little while. Then we started the lunch wagon.”

Santa has won awards in the Aloha Shoyu cooking contests, placed multiple times in Sam Choy’s Poke Contest (1st in 2000, 2nd in 2001), and was a top ten finalist for Tabasco’s cooking contests. At the Kapolei Uncorked event last year, he, alongside of Alan Wong, D.K. Kodama, and other top chefs, was a featured “Culinary Star.” The restaurant was featured in the New York Times, Elle Dรฉcor, Travel & Leisure and Sunset Magazine and is one of Oahu’s 100 Best Restaurants as named by the Honolulu Advertiser’s readers.

But don’t take my word for it. Feast your eyes on the shots below of the more popular dishes served here.

Ahi Tar-Tare Poke - $15: 1997 Sam Choy's Poke Contest Winner
Ahi Tar-Tare Poke – $15: 1997 Sam Choy’s Poke Contest Winner

There's a Spider in Da Poke - $16: 2000 Sam Choy's Poke Contest Winner
There’s a Spider in Da Poke – $16: 2000 Sam Choy’s Poke Contest Winner

Stuffed Portobello - $9.50: Portobello stuffed with sticky rice - yes it's half eaten!
Stuffed Portobello – $9.50: Portobello stuffed with sticky rice – yes it’s half eaten!

If you’re a butter fan, try something from their Bata Itame section on the menu. My favorite is the Tako! Imo! (Octopus! Potato!) choice.

Tako! Imo! - $6.50: Potato & Octopus
Tako! Imo! – $6.50: Potato & Octopus

One of the more amusing things you’ll notice about the menu is the descriptions of the dishes. It’s one thing that many of the dish titles are Japanese, but when you see things descriptions like “You Do Who! What?” (Yu Dofu), “I can’t explain. Can you?” (Kanpyo Roll), “It tastes better than worm” (Caterpillar Roll) or my personal favorite “You’ll never know till you try.” (Anago Yanagawa), it doesn’t help much.

Funny, vague dish descriptions
Funny, vague dish descriptions

Thankfully, you can go omakase (“leave it up to them”) if they like you and they’re not too busy. This is when you tell them what kinds of ingredients you like, and they’ll concoct dishes based around those interests. You can rest assured though that whatever comes out of their kitchen, omakase or not, will be top notch!

So what’s next for Hawaii’s best Izaka-ya? Believe it or not, they are planning to publish a cook book. You can be sure that I’ll be the first in line to pick up that puppy. After all, I’ve got 21 sushi-filled pounds to put back!

Tokkuri Tei
611 Kapahulu Ave, Suite 102
Honolulu, HI 96815 (map)
(808) 739-2800
Mon-Fri 10:30am-2pm
Mon-Fri 5:30pm-12am
Tokkuri Tei – The Izaka-ya to Die-ya For | Tokkuri Tei – Revisited

Let’s Get On With the Shokudo

August 1, 2007

Pops and I have this ongoing joke/battle with each other about where the best Japanese eats are around town. Hailing directly from the heart of Tokyo, he’s got this unyielding, old school, traditional Japanese palate, while I have more of an open “nu skool” hunger for innovative dining experiences. Who’s right? Let’s get it on and see shall we?

When you think of traditional Japanese fare, you think tsukemono, miso soup, okara, chawanmushi, nabeyaki udon, oden, tonkatsu, and much more. Oxtail rahmen, sushi pizza, spicy tuna summer rolls, or beef tataki with balsamic sushi doesn’t exactly enter the mind. As well, sliding shoji or fusuma doors, tatami mats, and servers dressed in yukata kimonos are all what you would relate to a traditional Japanese restaurant. Not, funky light fixtures and eclectic design aspects, in an upbeat, colorful setting.

Inside Shokudo

I think this is where I’m losing pops.

Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar, located on the ground floor of the Ala Moana Pacific Center on Kapiolani Boulevard (next to Angelo Pietro), opened its doors on March 2nd, 2005 and has been rolling ever since. In their first year in Hawaii, they earned the Gold Hale `Aina Award for “Best Japanese Restaurant” and have continued to garner accolades since. As part of a franchise of Dream Dining Honolulu LLC, they have since successfully spawned a second store by the name of Tokyo Table in La Cienega California in late December 2006.

Dream who? Dining what? Shokudo Restaurant Manager Geraldine Jordan details the history: “Tetsuya Emura, President & CEO of Dream Dining Honolulu LLC. d.b.a. Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar, once occupied many important roles in management for Watami Food Service Co. in Japan. Watami is a food service conglomerate that owns 400 restaurants which operates 10 different types of restaurants. In 1998, he was appointed the position of the founding CEO of T.G.I. Friday’s Japan, Inc. This company established a subsidiary of Watami Co. in a joint venture between Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, Inc. Watami Co. acquired a T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant in Guam that gained him the invaluable experiences with the unfamiliar laws, foreign business custom, and new market. He also got involved in the setting up of a Japanese Izakaya restaurant named ‘Watami’ in Hong Kong. His successes and invaluable experiences from Watami had led him to venture on his own and introduce Japanese food culture overseas.”

One of the greatest things about your dining experience at Shokudo is just that, it’s an experience. I’ve been here for large parties (private room holds up to 20-25 people), after work get-togethers (excellent bar selection, including wine, beer, sake, shochu and vodka sodas), the first stop of a bachelor party night (don’t ask), and date nights with the lady, and all experiences proved to be equally fulfilling, festive and fun. Taking one look at the company info page on their web site, it’s not hard to understand why. They take great pride in balancing and enriching their customers, employees and company to create what they refer to as the Triangle Theory. Jordan explains:

“The Triangle Theory and philosophy is one of the main reasons why I came to join the company in the first place. It consists of three major aspects: the employees, the guests, and the company. It is important to harmoniously balance and equally enrich these areas to build a wholesome and successful business. It is also good for the community to raise these values in their business. We have to understand that the business success is due to the employees that will take care of our guests. And if our guest is well taken cared of, we create loyalty. My past experiences working in the food and beverage in larger corporation may have etched somewhat of this theory in their mission statement, but was never practiced or really valued. Look at it like a tripod. If one leg is in poor condition or missing, the result will lead the tripod to fall. It’s really a simple analogy yet so profound with fundamentals to building a successful business.”

With everything now in perfect harmony, let’s get to the food!

Shokudo’s selection is as eclectic as its interior design. Research & Development Manager Norimasa Okazaki is responsible for most of the 60 or so diverse dishes they carry. A few of the items on their seasonal and grand menu have been influenced by the staff that Nori could not resist putting in the lineup.

Their best seller is the Chicken Karaage. Not particularly unique on its own, but with the Spicy Tartar Sauce, it gives it that extra oomph that you’re looking for.

Chicken Karaage with Spicy Tartar Sauce
Chicken Karaage with Spicy Tartar Sauce

According to Jordan, other popular dishes include their homemade fresh tofu, tofu salad, Ishiyaki (hot stone bowls), and the mouth watering Honey Toast.

Honey Toast
Honey Toast

But are you going to take the Restaurant Manger’s word for it or mine? ๐Ÿ˜‰ (kidding Geri!)

I’ve had the Chicken Karaage with Spicy Tartar Sauce, homemade fresh tofu and of course, the Honey Toast, and yes, I agree with you peeps that these are definitely the must-haves. However, I’m not one to go with the crowd. I run with scissors and talk to the driver while the bus is in motion. You can’t stop me! ๐Ÿ˜›

For me, the one constant is their Agedashi Tofu. Good lord! Deep fried and covered with katsuobushi, two types of negi (onions) and their shoyu-based sauce, it’s Fergalicious!

Agedashi Tofu
Agedashi Tofu

Other personal favorites include the Rock Shrimp,

Rock Shrimp
Rock Shrimp

the Clam Miso Soup,

Clam Miso Soup
Clam Miso Soup

and the Fried Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Sauce.

Fried Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Sauce
Fried Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Sauce

If you’re bringing a hot date here, some fun things to try are one of the many variations of Vodka Soda,

Grape Calpico Vodka Soda
Grape Calpico Vodka Soda

the Honey Toast of course, or the Garlic Marlin Seared on Hot Plate.

Garlic Marlin Seared on Hot Plate
Garlic Marlin Seared on Hot Plate

This is a truly interactive dish and can prove to be the ice breaker you need to save this “hot” date of yours. The seasoned garlic marlin comes raw and is cooked by you on a provided hot plate.

(! – World-Wide-Ed Tip: Next time you stop by, be sure to sign up for their Dream Diner E-Frequent Member Card! It’s free and will collect valuable points (special hours will earn you double points) every time you dine there, good for special savings and a 1 in 20 chance to win a lottery prize giveaway. Best of all, you automatically earn a one time $25 birthday reward, which you can redeem during your birthday month.)

Future plans are to open up more restaurants in the L.A. area by the end of the year, and continue to service their loyal customers here in Hawaii.

“We can’t thank the community enough for all their love and support. Without the community support, we would not exist. But I cannot forget to mention our staff that truly loves serving our guests that they developed a bond beyond business. Some of our regular guests are like family to us. And we welcome anyone to join our family here at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant and Bar.” says Jordan.

As soon as I publish this article, I’m sending the URL to pops. It won’t be long until he joins me back in the Nu Skool…

The Shokudo Management Staff (L to R): Sam Eligio (Operation Manager), Takaaki Fujii (General Manager), Justin Mizufuka (MIT/Manager in Training), Kellyn Higa (MIT/Manager in Training, Geraldine Jordan (Restaurant Manager), Yuji Shimojo (Kitchen Manager), Eiji Kato (Kitchen Manager in Training), Takahide Kukidome (HR and Kitchen Manager in Training).
The Shokudo Management Staff (L to R): Sam Eligio (Operation Manager), Takaaki Fujii (General Manager), Justin Mizufuka (MIT/Manager in Training), Kellyn Higa (MIT/Manager in Training, Geraldine Jordan (Restaurant Manager), Yuji Shimojo (Kitchen Manager), Eiji Kato (Kitchen Manager in Training), Takahide Kukidome (HR and Kitchen Manager in Training).

Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar
Ala Moana Pacific Center, Ground Floor
1585 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814 (map)
(808) 941-3701
Sunday-Thursday: 11:30am to 1am
Friday-Saturday: 11:30am to 2am
E-mail: InfoSHOKUDO@hawaii.rr.com