Posts Tagged ‘ward avenue’

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*


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:]

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.

Sheridan Street (Behind Hinone Mizunone, between South King & Liona)
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (Street View)
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:]

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

Yatai? More like Yatta!


Banzai to Kanpai! – Kanpai Bar & Grill

June 1, 2009

When I hear someone say “Eh, we go bar!” I picture some dark musky room with sweaty old men drinking cheap booze as they throw popcorn at the TV or complain about their nagging wives.

And although there ARE actually places like this, there are several watering holes around town that are working hard to completely wipe that image from your head. The relatively new Kanpai Bar & Grill (opened in September of 2008) off Ward Avenue is one such place.

“Kanpai” is the Japanese word for “cheers,” or to toast, and there’s definitely reason to raise a glass and give a little banzai to this “higher class” bar.

Kanpai Bar & Grill sign
Kanpai Bar & Grill sign

Why “higher class”? For one, they’ve done a number to the interior of what used to be Dixie Grill and Tio’s. Lots of great “dining” style seating (indoor and outdoor), three dart machines, multiple-touch screen game machines, and 11 or so flat screens showing the most current sporting events all complete the ambience. And we didn’t even mention the food. Not your typical popcorn and peanut collection here yo! It’s real, restaurant quality food and it’s off the hook!

Having owners/partners with many years of experience in the fine dining and food and beverage worlds probably has something to do with it.

The husband and wife dynamic duo of Nadya & Bryan Yamasaki has 17 years of Food & Beverage experience under their belts. Combine that with the culinary mastery of Neil Nakasone, Brandon Hamada, John Estrella, and Jensen Hirota (aptly named Quatro Foods) in the kitchen – with experiences at such places as The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong, Halekulani, Ritz Carlton, Ruth’s Chris, and Tokuname – and you’ve got yourself a winning formula for some of the best bar eats in town.

Two of their best sellers are the signature steaks (wafu or kim chee), and the shortrib loco moco.

Wafu Style Ribeye Steak with Kabayaki Braised Mushrooms and Onions, Daikon Oroshi, Garlic Chips, and Ponzu Sauce (12oz - $16, 16oz - $22)
Wafu Style Ribeye Steak with Kabayaki Braised Mushrooms and Onions, Daikon Oroshi, Garlic Chips, and Ponzu Sauce (12oz – $16, 16oz – $22)

Kim Chee Ribeye Steak with Kim Chee and Two Fried Eggs (12oz - $16, 16oz - $22)
Kim Chee Ribeye Steak with Kim Chee and Two Fried Eggs (12oz – $16, 16oz – $22)

Braised Shortrib Loco Moco With Natural Pan Gravy and Two Eggs - $12
Braised Shortrib Loco Moco With Natural Pan Gravy and Two Eggs – $12

Other customer favorites according to Nadya include the garlic soybeans ($7), ahi belly ($10), and something off of their daily specials menu.

Favorites of this writer include the Spicy Garlic Chicken, Pork Chops, and Fried Rice. What’s a good meal without rice right? Right.

Fried Rice with Two Eggs - $8
Fried Rice with Two Eggs – $8

Spicy Garlic Chicken - $8
Spicy Garlic Chicken – $8

Pork Chops with Sauteed Onions - $14
Pork Chops with Sauteed Onions – $14

Oh, and let’s not forget to mention their Saimin and Kalbi Fried Noodles.

Saimin with all the Fixins - $8
Saimin with all the Fixins – $8

Kalbi Fried Noodles - $10
Kalbi Fried Noodles – $10

How does Kanpai pull all of this off in such turbulent economic times?

Nadya explains, “In today’s economy, quality and value are important factors in any business. Providing good food with good value is a challenge that motivates us to meet and satisfy our customer’s expectations.”

This kind of attitude is what sets Kanpai apart from the rest. It also helps to explain the loyal customer base that packs this place on the regular.

So if you’re tired of eating peanuts with sweaty old men, give Kanpai a try the next time someone says “Eh, we go bar!” Your tummy will thank you.

Kanpai Bar & Grill
404 Ward Ave # 100
Honolulu, HI. 96814 (map)
(808) 593-9202
Open 11am to 2am daily

Aloha Slammers

August 1, 2008

Last night, the curtain closed on another Kalakauan classic. Slammers, the popular sports bar/good eats joint closed its doors to the public at this location. The good news is that it it only temporary as they prepare to re-open under the name Kanpai Bar & Grill on Ward Avenue (across Sports Authority where the old Dixie Grill and more recently Tio’s used to be). Those who frequented Slammers for the past 3 years, came for one last night of drinks and good times. See the scenes below. Go and support Kanpai Bar & Grill when they re-open k? They are currently targeting early September.

Slammers' Sign Go Bye Bye
Slammers’ Sign Go Bye Bye

The last few markers
The last few markers

Da Notice
Da Notice
No fo-get to also read my new article: Açai in Ha-wa-ii – Part I.

Açai in Ha-wa-ii - Part I
Açai in Ha-wa-ii – Part I