Posts Tagged ‘soba’

Yajima-Ya Lunch Wagon Revisited

August 1, 2012
Yatai in Hawaii (Part I) |  Yajima-Ya Revisited (Part II) 

The last time I covered the Yajima-Ya Lunch Wagon (located off of Sheridan Street near Keeaumoku), the majority of their menu items consisted of the noodle (soba or udon) and don (rice bowls) variety. Since then, they’ve expanded their menu to include well received plate lunch style items like teriyaki or mushroom chicken, steak, and a Japanese style beef stew called Hayashi Rice. I figgah now’s a good time as any to pay chef Tomoki Ito a (re)visit to see what’s new… with a little food p0rn/eye candy of course!

One of my favorite (and incidentally one of their most popular) dishes here is the mushroom chicken. Made with egg and tempura flour, the breaded crispiness of the chicken is offset nicely with the rich “graviness” of the rue. With a side of spinach and Japanese style mac salad, this one is fo’ real kine brok’ da mout’!

Mushroom Chicken Plate ($8.50)
Mushroom Chicken Plate ($8.50)

Prepared in a similar way sans the gravy, is their Teriyaki Chicken plate. Love the touch with the Furikake over the rice!

Teriyaki Chicken Plate ($8) (Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito)
Teriyaki Chicken Plate ($8) (Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito)

Another favorite of mine is the Hayashi Rice Plate (the Japanese style beef stew). Here’s a shot of that gem.

Hayashi Rice plate ($8)
Hayashi Rice plate ($8)

Wifey likes their Buta Shougayaki (Pork Ginger) plate, which is strange because she’s not a fan of ginger. In fact, neither am I, but we both can sure whack this buggah like that. Here’s a shot of Yajima-Ya’s combination plate with Pork Ginger and Wafu style New York Steak w/ponzu.

Pork Ginger and Wafu w/ponzu Steak combination plate ($9)
Pork Ginger and Wafu w/ponzu Steak combination plate ($9)

It’s hard to tell, but there’s a stack of steak underneath all that onion and ginger.

One of the great things about a combination plate at a place like Yajima-Ya, is that your options are practically endless. Some days you might be in the mood for Japanese style fair, while on other days, you might want full on local kine grindz. And then, there are those days when you just can’t make up your mind. This is when you combine the flava of the East with that of the options from way out west.

Here are a couple of combination plates, blending Hawaii and Japan.

Tempura and Teri Chicken combination plate ($8.50)
Tempura and Teri Chicken combination plate ($8.50)

Samurai Donburi & Mushroom Chicken combo ($8.50)
Samurai Donburi & Mushroom Chicken combo ($8.50)

And of course, they still have their tried and true donburi, udon and soba items like their Samurai Donburi…

Samurai Donburi ($7.50)
Samurai Donburi ($7.50)

… the Bukkake Sanuki Udon…

Bukkake Sanuki Udon ($8)
Bukkake Sanuki Udon ($8)

… and their Sansai (Vegetable Tempura) Soba.

Sansai Soba ($6.50)
Sansai Soba ($6.50)

Other interesting menu items include the Kara Soba (Spicy Cold Soba) for $8.25, the $4 Breakfast Special (Rice with 1 scrambled egg, 2 slices of bacon & 3 slices of Portuguese Sausage), and a couple of Salad options (with a choice of Udon or Soba) for $8 each. A far cry from the humble beginnings when their main clientele was employees from the neighboring Yajima-Ya (Cosmo) service station.

A few things to note since my last article… Although they’ve expanded their menu options to include the local style favorites mentioned above, they’ve also streamlined operations, choosing to shorten their hours of operation, and do away with extraneous things that take time to prepare like their Belgian Waffles, specialty drinks, and their Daily Specials menu altogether.

Yajima-Ya Hours of operation
Yajima-Ya Hours of operation

Kudos to chef Ito-san and the rest of the Yajima-Ya family for constantly evolving and finding ways to please our palate. I just hope my food p0rn/eye candy did the food justice.

Check them out the next time you’re in the area (or even if you’re not!). Trust… You won’t be disappointed.

Yajima-Ya
@yajimayahawaii
Sheridan Street (Behind Hinone Mizunone, between South King & Liona)
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (Street View)
808-497-7991
Mon-Fri: 7am-5pm
Sat: 7:30am-4:30pm

Yatai in Hawaii (Part I) |  Yajima-Ya Revisited (Part II) 

 

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Hawaii Ramen Quest – Part III

December 1, 2011
Part I | Part II |  Part III  | Part IV | Part V

With winter in full swing and Hawaii’s “chilly” weather freezing everyone to the core 😛 , there’s no better comfort food than a nice, hot, steamy bowl of ramen. And while eating at some of my go-to ramen picks (i.e. Yotteko-Ya, Tenkaippin, etc.) would be ideal, sometimes, patronizing your friendly, neighborhood ramen spots is the way to go to help warm the soul.

This next batch of spots in our Hawaii Ramen Quest consists of some of the more non-traditional, localized interpretations of ramen. Stemming from what appears to be of local Chinese influence (with the use of cabbage, bean sprouts, corn, mapo tofu, etc.), these ramen joints often have multiple locations in very convenient areas around town, and I would venture to guess that they are conceivably some of the most popular amongst the locals. Although I don’t associate any of these with the “straight from tha muthaland” flavor and style of ramen I’m accustomed to, there’s no doubt that I still frequent many of these for my noodle fix on the regular.

First up is Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea.

I don’t usually venture out around lower Aiea too often except when I take a wrong turn from Aiea Bowl or Ice Garden, so when I actually did one day, I noticed a sign with big red letters calling me. It said Daiichi Ramen & Curry and I immediately thought to myself, “Oh, thaaaaat’s where it is!” Now you gotta understand, with a name like that (which means “#1” in Japanese), I will place very high expectations on the ramen coming out of the pots there. But then again, with a name like that (gotta love the confidence BTW!) it has to be good right? I’ve heard a lot about this place before but it wasn’t until a recent check-in by @abaggy earlier this month that my curiosity got the best of me. I dragged co-workers and friends Maribel and Trina to come along for the ride.

Maribel & Trina pose outside Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea Shopping Plaza
Maribel & Trina pose outside Daiichi Ramen & Curry in Aiea Shopping Plaza

The first thing you notice is that it is very clean (perhaps even remodeled). Surprising, as they been around for quite some time. The next thing you notice is the two giant posters hanging on the wall advertising their “new” Tonkotsu and Tan Tan Ramens. Smart choice as those have been the popular styles of ramen here in Hawaii as of late.

Trina and I got one of each, while Maribel got the “Special Combo” with Mini Ramen & Curry choices.

Tan Tan Ramen - Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with chicken bones, pork rib bones and fresh ground sesame seeds, made fresh daily. - $7.75
Tan Tan Ramen – Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with chicken bones, pork rib bones and fresh ground sesame seeds, made fresh daily. – $7.75

Tonkotsu Ramen - Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with soft rib bones made fresh daily. - $7.75
Tonkotsu Ramen – Healthy soup cooked for over 12 hours with soft rib bones made fresh daily. – $7.75

Ramen from the Special Combo, Two choice - $8.75
Ramen from the Special Combo, Two choice – $8.75

Mini Curry Rice from the Special Combo, 2 Choice - $8.75
Mini Curry Rice from the Special Combo, 2 Choice – $8.75

Maribel and Trina posing with our ramens
Maribel and Trina posing with our ramens

The flavor wasn’t quite there for the Tonkotsu ramen, but the Ton Ton definitely had a lot of kick. It made all of us cry just a bit. LOL!

Daiichi Ramen & Curry
Aiea Shopping Plaza
99-080 Kauhale Road, Bldg A
Aiea, HI 96701 (Street View)
(808) 486-7432
Daily: 10:30am-9:30pm

Note: A new location also just opened up at 1029 Makolu Street in Pearl City (808-455-9898), which is the strip mall with Starbucks, Kozo Sushi and Panda Express FYI.

 

Next up is Sumo Ramen & Curry. They’ve got 6 or so locations sprinkled across Oahu now, but the one we visited for this review was the tiny one in the Moanalua 99 food court area.

Sumo Ramen & Curry at Moanalua 99
Sumo Ramen & Curry at Moanalua 99

We had the little one with us so everything had to be ordered in “to go” packaging (… You know, just in case. LOL!), but everything was pretty tasty nonetheless. They have quite an extensive menu with offerings in the curry, fried noodle, udon, fried rice, cold soba and ramen categories, in addition to various appetizers you don’t usually see at a place like this.

Spicy Chicken Wings Appetizer - $3.75
Spicy Chicken Wings Appetizer – $3.75

Wifey ordered the Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo, while I got, what else?, the Tonkotsu Ramen. At least I’m consistent right? 🙂

Tonkotsu Ramen - $7.50
Tonkotsu Ramen – $7.50

Here’s a shot of our entire meal.

Spicy Chicken Wings appetizer ($3.75), Tonkotsu Ramen ($7.50), and wifey's Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo ($9.50)
Spicy Chicken Wings appetizer ($3.75), Tonkotsu Ramen ($7.50), and wifey’s Mochiko Chicken Curry Combo ($9.50)

Sumo Ramen & Curry
Moanalua 99 Food Court
1151 Mapunapuna Street, Suite W-9
Honolulu, HI 96819 (Street View)
(808) 833-3139

 

IchiBen in Pearl City’s Times Square Shopping Center is a somewhat newer addition to the ramen scene, but has quickly gained popularity amongst the locals in the area. They specialize in fried rice, curries Korean style BBQ, and their ramens. The attention to detail with their ramen broth is evident by the meticulous description on their menu:

Our special cooked-from-scratch broth is low-simmered for 8-10 hours, resulting in a clear stock with layers of intense flavor. The ingredients include pork shank bones, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, kombu, dried shrimps and scallops, onions, garlic, ginger and leek. You can choose from Shoyu or Miso flavor. The third choice, Paitan, is kanchi for white soup. This signature pork and chicken soup is slow-boiled for 10 or more hours until the stock turns a milky white color. It is rich in collagen and flavor, also known as tonkotsu, and it’s a regional style from Southern Japan. Ours is delightfully light and smooth, without the greasy taste because of our constant skimming all day. We do not use MSG in our cooking, including the soup stock.

Here’s a shot of the Seafood Ramen with Paitan style broth.

Seafood Ramen with Paitan broth - $8.45
Seafood Ramen with Paitan broth – $8.45

Wifey seemed to be happy with her order of the Shoyu version.

Seafood Ramen with Shoyu broth - $7.95
Seafood Ramen with Shoyu broth – $7.95

On a return visit, I wasn’t really in the mood for ramen (it was hot out), so I read the menu’s description of their “Flaming Grill” options and was sold. I swear, the guy who wrote these should win some kind of award for always making me so hungry! 😛

Our BBQ chicken and Kalbi are marinated in Korean-style sauce with shoyu, sugar, ginger, garlic, black pepper and sesame oil for at least 12 hours to bring out the full flavor. Grilled to perfection and served with steamed rice, macaroni salad and tsukemono.

IchiGrill - 1 fillet of chicken and 2 slices of kalbi short ribs - $9.95
IchiGrill – 1 fillet of chicken and 2 slices of kalbi short ribs – $9.95

I actually liked the Korean BBQ items more than the ramen here. Very flavorful and tasty!

IchiBen
Times Square Shopping Center
98-1254 Kaahumanu Street, Suite B-06
Pearl City, HI 96782 (Street View)
(808) 488-4200
Sun-Thu: 11am-9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm

 

Mililani natives would know all about our next stop: Genki Ramen, which has a location on each side of the H2 (Mililani Mauka and Mililani town). Working out here in the often chilly-willy Central Oahu locale, it’s easy to make a quick lunch run to either location. Here are co-workers and friends Wendy and Maribel during a recent visit to the Mauka location.

Wendy and Maribel pose with our spread from Genki Ramen
Wendy and Maribel pose with our spread from Genki Ramen

Wendy ordered the Pork Vegetable Fried Noodles, which, ironically (at a ramen shop), is one of my favorite dishes here.

Pork Vegetable Fried Noodle - $7.50
Pork Vegetable Fried Noodle – $7.50

I usually order the Seafood Fried Noodles sans the radioactive looking ginger or the Mabo Tofu Ramen, but since this is a Ramen Quest, I took one for the team and ordered the marquee item on the menu: The New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl)!

New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl) - $9.75
New Genki Ramen (Big Bowl) – $9.75

Although da buggah is HUGE, it’s rather deceiving because, like many of the other ramens on their menu, the noodles seem to always be lacking. To me, they overstuff the bowl with cabbage and bean sprouts and never have enough noodles at the bottom for me to slurp on.

Maribel got the Combo A Set which included a Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza.

Combo A Set - Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza - $7.75
Combo A Set – Mini Shoyu Ramen, Fried Rice and 4 pieces of Gyoza – $7.75

Genki Ramen II (Mililani Mauka)
95-1840 Meheula Parkway
Mililani, HI 96789 (Street View)
(808) 626-7829

 

Rumor has it that there was some kind of rift (ala Gomaichi and Goma Tei) that caused one owner to leave Genki Ramen to start this next ramen restaurant chain: Ramen Ya. Although there is one in Kahului (Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center on Maui), and one to open soon in Hawaii Kai, this review is for the somewhat new location in the Pearl Highlands area.

The menu is remarkably identical to Genki Ramen’s one so I went with what I knew best and ordered the Mapo Tofu Ramen. Yep, it’s spelled “Mapo” here.

Mapo Tofu Ramen - $7.25
Mapo Tofu Ramen – $7.25

Co-workers and friends Erin and Diane went curry and ordered the Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice and the Curry Ramen respectively.

Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice - $7.75
Deep Fried Gyoza Curry Rice – $7.75

Curry Ramen - $7.25
Curry Ramen – $7.25

Erin and Diane with our food at Ramen-Ya
Erin and Diane with our food at Ramen-Ya

If you like Genki Ramen, you’ll like it here as well (and vice versa).

Ramen-Ya
1170 Kuala Street, Suite 308
Pearl City, HI 96782 (Street View)
(808) 456-8868
Daily: 10:30am-9pm

 

I never even knew this next place existed until I did a site visit in the area for work. Since it was lunch time and we were mad hungry, Maribel (yes again) and I decided to scope things out at Ton Ton Ramen.

The menu is fairly extensive with noodle, udon & rice dishes, combos, side orders and a variety of special ramens including the Black Sesame Tan Tan Ramen, Ippin Ramen, Oxtail Ramen, and the one I got, which was the very popular Soft Rib Ramen.

Soft Rib Ramen - Ribs are slowly cooked over 8 hours until tender & juicy. Ramen is served in a garlic shoyu base with traditional half cooked egg. Original Japanese style. - $8
Soft Rib Ramen – Ribs are slowly cooked over 8 hours until tender & juicy. Ramen is served in a garlic shoyu base with traditional half cooked egg. Original Japanese style. – $8

The soft boiled egg was a nice touch, though it wasn’t quite as soft-boiled as I would’ve liked it. The nori was also a good attempt at being authentic. The soup needed more flavor but the soft rib was definitely soft and tasty.

Surprise surprise. Maribel got a combo yet again. LOL! This time around, she got the Mochiko Chicken Combo, which included the Mochiko Chicken, a mini ramen, and gyoza.

A happy looking Maribel with her Mochiko Chicken Combo - $9.45
A happy looking Maribel with her Mochiko Chicken Combo – $9.45

Ton Ton Ramen
94-050 Farrington Highway
Waipahu, HI 96797 (Street View)
(808) 677-5388

 

Back in the day, when we used to go clubbing (yes, THAT long ago), this next stop was one of our staples: Taiyo Ramen, thanks to its late night hours of operation. Located in between the now two defunct Blockbuster and I Love Country Café locations off Piikoi, this ramen joint has stood the test of time and endured the ups and downs of the market.

I don’t have any current prices or photos, but here are a few dishes from way back in 2006.

Gomoku Ramen
Gomoku Ramen

Seafood Udon
Seafood Udon

Soba from Taiyo Ramen
Soba from Taiyo Ramen

Makes me want to get drunk and go there again for old time’s sake. 8)

Taiyo Ramen
451 Piikoi Street, Suite 105
Honolulu, HI 96814 (Street View)
(808) 589-2123
Mon-Thu 10am-1am
Fri-Sat 10am-3am
Sun 10am-9pm

 

And speaking of late night eats, here’s a quickie shot of my Oxtail Ramen from none other than Sanoya’s. Ahhh, the memories…

Oxtail Ramen from Sanoya's
Oxtail Ramen from Sanoya’s

Not exactly gourmet eating, but good enough for those late night cravings.

Sanoya Rahmen
1785 S King Street, Suite 4
Honolulu, HI 96826 (Street View)
(808) 947-6065

 

And finally, here’s a “fast kine” location we recently hit up at the Manoa Marketplace: Nishi Mon Cho Ramen. As you’ll see in the photos, we again ordered everything in take out containers because we had baby with us. Our parents were pretty hungry, but wifey and I weren’t so we decided to share something small. I got the daily (Friday) special, the Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza combo, while wifey got a mini shoyu ramen.

Nishi Mon Cho Friday Special - Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza - $6.99 (with wifey's mini shoyu ramen on the side). Yes, I'm not a fan of cooked carrots. :P
Nishi Mon Cho Friday Special – Curry Beef Rice & 4 pcs Gyoza – $6.99 (with wifey’s mini shoyu ramen on the side). Yes, I’m not a fan of cooked carrots. 😛

Some of the other daily specials at Nishi Mon Cho Ramen
Some of the other daily specials at Nishi Mon Cho Ramen

The warm, fuzzy story behind this visit was that the worker (who appeared to be the owner) was very friendly and accommodating with us, noticing our obvious apprehension (whether to eat in or take out) due to our situation with the little one. She shared information about her own kids and made everyone feel very comfortable.

Nishi Mon Cho Ramen
Manoa Marketplace
2851 E Manoa Road #1-104
Honolulu, HI 96822 (Street View)
(808) 988-9928
Daily: 10:30am-9pm

 

And that’s it! Whew! That was a packed one! If I don’t see or talk to you guys soon, have a safe and happy holiday season. See y’all next month/year! 🙂

Part I | Part II |  Part III  | Part IV | Part V

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

March 1, 2011

Street eats ain’t nothing new to the Japanese. Better known as yatai (food stalls), Japan is just crawling with them, often serving better tasting food than their indoor counterparts. From the Kita no Yatai district up north in Obihiro Hokkaido, all the way down south to Yatai Douri and the surrounding areas in Fukuoka, my peeps really know how to cook… And more importantly, EAT!

And while not exactly a yatai, food trucks have been picking up steam as of late here in Hawaii, so we’re gonna cover two interesting ones that serve Japanese fair: Yajima-Ya (on Sheridan) and Blue Truck Teppanyaki (on University). That should be “yatai-ish” enough right? *grin*

Yajima-Ya

I first heard about this place through the Social Media grapevine. There was a buzz about this new Japanese-themed lunch truck opening up that had some kind of tie to the Yajima Service Station (Cosmo) nearby.

I asked wifey and some friends who work in the area if they’ve ever heard about it and I got the same response. “No, but let me know where it is so I can check it out. Sounds yummy!”

In front of Yajima-Ya's eating area
In front of Yajima-Ya’s eating area

So when they opened in October of last year, I had to check it out. After several visits, I got to know Manager Tomoki Ito a little as I interacted with him in both Japanese and English (he speaks both very well). One of my first questions to him was the association with the Yajima Service Station and how it all got started.

“I was hired by service station as a manager,” says Ito. “My boss, Mr. Akahane had the idea of making ‘tachigui udon, soba-ya’ which is a small restaurant located at every train station in Japan. They serve noodles very quick and customers eat while standing. Then, we found the truck and looked for good noodles and soup. Actually, I was the only one who had experience with cooking, so I was put in charge of the lunch truck. That’s the very beginning of our lunch truck.”

On a recent trip there, I ordered the Supreme Don (Pork, Beef and Shrimp Tempura over rice)…

Supreme Don - $9
Supreme Don – $9

… while wifey got the soba with sansai (vegetable) topping.

Sansai Soba - $6
Sansai Soba – $6

Our friend Rick Nakama took his own photo of his dish, the Buta Shougayaki Donburi (pork and ginger over rice)

Buta Shougayaki Donburi (pork and ginger over rice) - $6.50
Buta Shougayaki Donburi (pork and ginger over rice) – $6.50 [Photo Credit: Rick Nakama]

According to Ito, one of their best sellers is their $8 Yajima-Ya Bukkake Udon/Soba, which is beef, seaweed, natto and mountain vegetables over cold noodles. Gotta try that next time!

Yajima-Ya Bukkake Udon/Soba (beef, seaweed, natto and mountain vegetables over cold noodles) - $8 [Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito]
Yajima-Ya Bukkake Udon/Soba (beef, seaweed, natto and mountain vegetables over cold noodles) – $8 [Photo Credit: Tomoki Ito]

For those who can’t decide between the udon/soba and donburi choices, you can get a combo of the two (just ask within). You can also try one of their breakfast items (served until 10am), Belgian Waffles, or choose from one of their daily specials, which includes Hayashi Rice on Saturdays!

Daily Specials from Yajima-Ya
Daily Specials from Yajima-Ya

Of course, what’s a visit to a lunch truck without busting out the trusty ol’ Oceanic Mobile Hotspot for some 4G web surfing. Yup, it works here!

Oceanic Mobile works at Yajima-Ya on Sheridan Street
Oceanic Mobile works at Yajima-Ya on Sheridan Street [Photo Credit: AndHere.com]

Parking is a little tight here. There are only two stalls in front and the rest is street parking, which is not that easy in this area during the week. Either way, make your way here, as it’s a winnah.

Yajima-Ya
@yajimayahawaii
Sheridan Street (Behind Hinone Mizunone, between South King & Liona)
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (Street View)
808-497-7991
Mon-Fri: 7:30am-7:30pm
Sat: 7:30am-5pm
Breakfast served until 10am daily.

Blue Truck Teppanyaki

I’ve always seen this bright blue truck parked out in front of the Atherton YMCA on University when I drive by, but never bothered to stop for a looksee. It wasn’t until a glowing review or three from the Brother-In-Law that wifey and I decided to check it out one afternoon (they are at this location from 5pm-8pm daily).

Blue Truck Teppanyaki
Blue Truck Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki is basically a style of cooking in Japanese culture that involves using a flat stove top/griddle (teppan). At Blue Truck, you simply choose your type of meat (juicy steak, garlic teri chicken, hamburger steak, or shrimp) and optional side order items (Portobello mushroom, eggplant, egg, etc.) and they do the rest.

Workers preparing our teppanyaki
Workers preparing our teppanyaki

Basically, that involves them pan-frying/grilling your meat over the teppan range (left), adding their special sauce over it, and finally placing it on a bed of rice, corn and sautéed vegetables.

Home-Made Hamburger Steak (Mini) - $5
Home-Made Hamburger Steak (Mini) – $5

Juicy Steak & Garlic Teri Chicken Combo - $8
Juicy Steak & Garlic Teri Chicken Combo – $8

Prices are pretty reasonable here. If you wanted to double the amount of meat in the combo above to make 1 pound, it would only be $11.

Blue Truck Teppanyaki also serves breakfast items and specials like Spicy Tuna ($7), Steak Roll ($8), New York Sirloin Steak ($14), Pork chop ($8), Scallop ($14), Fish ($9) and Vegetable ($8) plates.

If you’re looking for this truck during lunch, they are at various locations throughout the week from 11am-2pm. See sign below.

Blue Truck Teppanyaki locations
Blue Truck Teppanyaki locations

And yes, in case you were wondering, Oceanic Mobile worked at the University Avenue location too! 8)

Oceanic Mobile works at Blue Truck Teppanyaki on University Avenue
Oceanic Mobile works at Blue Truck Teppanyaki on University Avenue [Photo Credit: AndHere.com]

Blue Truck Teppanyaki
University Avenue (in front of Charles H. Atherton House – YMCA)
Honolulu, HI. 96822 (Street View)
808-389-6808
Daily: 5pm-8pm

Yatai? More like Yatta!

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. 🙂

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. 😛

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. 🙂

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