Archive for the ‘Japanese’ Category

Chibo moves to Beach Walk

By
August 15th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Negiyaki is one of my favorite dishes at Okonomiyaki Chibo.

Okonomiyaki Chibo has a new address, having moved out of Royal Hawaiian Center and onto Beach Walk Avenue, next to Bill's restaurant. The move into what was formerly Bill's downstairs cafe has meant downsizing from more than a hundred seats to fewer than 50, making it a lot cozier.

With the move, there's also been some menu changes, including making a few "hidden" menu options official, with a permanent spot so that everyone can enjoy them, not just those in the know. These dishes have a lot to do with comfort, such as okonomiyaki-style omelet of egg and slices of pork, and potatoes two ways (hash browned and sautéed) with bacon and onions.

They're still acclimating to the change, but for now, below is a sampling of a few dishes available.

———————
Okonomiyaki Chibo is at 280 Beach Walk Ave., Suite L-106. Open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. daily. Happy hour from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

This hidden menu combo of pork and egg is now on Chibo's menu for good.

This hidden menu combo of pork and egg is now on Chibo's menu for good.

Salads cut the guilt involved with eating out, and Chibo offers several options, including this tofu salad.

A Korean salad features a spicy dressing and sprinkling of sesame seeds over lettuce, beet strings, carrots, red cabbage, onions and fishcake.

A carpaccio trio of maguro, salmon and tako are part of a new tapas menu.

A carpaccio trio of maguro, salmon and tako are part of a new tapas menu.

Paper thin crispy gyoza is one of the specialties at Chibo. That little bit of sauce packs an intensely salty kick.

Grilled opakapaka is a welcome addition to the menu at Chibo.

Fluffy garlic fried rice and miso soup are staples for accompanying any dish.

Potato lovers will be drawn to this duo of hash browns and sautéed potatoes with bacon, though the bacon was rather flabby. Crisp mo' betta.

Well this is an interesting dish for teppan steak lovers with vegan friends. This is faux steak made with konnyaku, or potato gelatin, known for being high in fiber and low in calories. It looks like steak, but its bounce factor is recognizably konnyaku. It's $8 vs. $38 for Prime New York steak here.

A strawberry or pineapple slush is a refreshing treat on a hot day. There's ice cream on the bottom. It's $8.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Bozu's dozens of temptations

By
July 27th, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Beef in a decadent (and telegenic) appetizer of mountain yam and sea urchin beef roll (currently $15.75 for three) at the newly open Bozu Japanese Restaurant at McCully Shopping Center was rather chewy, but if you're the type who swallows your sushi in one gulp, this should pose no problem. The leaf is shiso. The dab of green on top is wasabi.

Hoshi Katsu has stepped out of the kitchen of other Japanese restaurants around town, most notably Imanas Tei, to open Bozu Japanese Restaurant on the second floor at McCully Shopping Center, and there are a lot of foodies around town who are going to be happy that he did.

His izakaya is a joy, with many a jewel of a dish leaving me with a hunger to try what's next, and next. Portions are small, but mostly reasonable when shared. It's best to try it with at least three friends in tow so you can explore the range of hot-cold, seafood-meat, grill-saute, raw-cooked specialties.

Then there are the things that can't be shared, like chilled chawanmushi or crab miso soup. Get your own.

And, my best piece of advice is, keep your eyes open for what's going out to other tables. It's a little bit like "When Harry Met Sally." "I want what she's having," without the moaning. Chances are you'll see lots you want to try, even if you'd already filled your belly and it means booking your next reservation before walking out the door.

My full review is in the paper today. Here's a snapshot of dishes sampled:

TOP 3 DISHES

Chilled chawanmushi is a refreshing summer treat, with the flavors of the ocean, including bursts of salt from fresh ikura pearls. Currently $7.50 per glass, roughly about twice the size of a shot glass.

Slices of juicy, grilled black pork tontoro. You may need more than one of these $8 servings. Portions tend to be small here, which works for those who want to cover as much of the varied menu as possible.

Chicken liver mousse had us clamoring for more bread to scoop up every delicious bite.

LEAST FAVORITE

Tsukune, tare style, was tasty on the outside, but lacked flavor on the inside, though I appreciated the attempt to make it more interesting with a crunchy mince of lotus root inside.

A special of crab miso soup looked divine but the crab required too much hard work without enough of a payoff.

A crab mayo whitefish roll with avocado seemed promising but it was rather dry and fell

A crab mayo whitefish roll with avocado seemed promising but it was rather dry and fell apart. It was incongruously paired with tomato sauce.

THE REST

I have often mentioned how little I care for rice. What I do love are potatoes, and Bozu's tangy potato salad.

What's better than french fries? Fries sprinkled with garlic and housemade anchovy sauce. Not everyone will appreciate the fishiness, but I do. I wish someone here would make fish paste fried chicken the way it's done in Singapore. Yummers!

For others who don't care for rice, Bozu has a cucumber wrap, riceless "sushi" with a center of ahi, yellowtail, salmon, whitefish, cab and avocado. I loved the combination with crunch, but didn't photograph it. This is the house Bozu Roll with rice, and all of the above plus shrimp.

Chef/owner Hoshi Katsu at work, plating the masterpiece below. Sorry, I don't know what it was. A lot of things were going out to other tables after I ordered, on every occasion. Which is what I mean about wanting more every time you see a dish go by.

bozudisplay

Can anybody ever go wrong with hamachi kama?

A dish of fried chicken and eggplant is Bozu's nod to Chinese cuisine. The sauce was rather heavy and I liked the dish's crunchy zucchini best. It was unscathed by the sauce.

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Someone once told me they missed aku poke. So I decided to see what I was missing and try the aku tataki. Now I know why ahi is the fish of choice. The texture is better.

Mirugai kushiyaki was one of about 20 daily seafood specials. This was $5.75 per skewer.

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

A peek at Japan Village Walk

By
June 2nd, 2016



PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

 

Pork ramen is one of the specialties of Kobe-based Gashoken Ramen, among the 30 to 40 eateries that will be a part of Shirokiya's Japan Village Walk, slated to open June 25 on the ground level of Ala Moana Center's Ewa Wing.

A handful of restaurants in the soon-to-open Japan Village Walk at Ala Moana Center, were testing the facilities and recipes June 1 and needed a few guinea pigs to dispatch the food. I was happy to do so while getting a sneak peek into Shirokiya's newest food concept.

Shirokiya's former Yataimura was just a warmup act for this colossal food court, set to house about 30 to 40 different food vendors.

The layout is clean and orderly, but will also be a grid-like maze of boxy take-out counters. It will be easy enough for adults to navigate, but parents will have to hold on to their children, who may get confused by the sameness of the setting—sort of like townies driving around Mililani or Kapolei.

God-san will offer a variety of yakisoba dishes, such as these bentos featuring omelet and shrimp, and omelet, bacon and fried egg.

 

So far so good as far as the equipment testing. Deep-fried croquettes and tonkatsu were turning out crisp and light. Ramen from Gashoken was perfection. But with many more vendors set to move in, JVW won't be open until June 25, when everyone is confident they'll be ready.

Vintage Cave Honolulu will be introducing Wagyu Plaza featuring six boutique restaurants; Seafood Plaza featuring eight bistros; and Vintage Cave Bakery. The original Vintage Cave remains at its current location in Ala Moana Center’s Diamond Head Wing.

 

Adding to the foodcentric venue, Vintage Cave Café, is set to open next to JVW in October. The Italian-inspired café will feature an array of seafood dishes, Milan style pasta, Napoli style pizza, Wagyu steak and more, in a room mimicking the look and feel of an Italian Cathedral, complete with dome ceiling, murals, and sculptures from Italy. The 9,000-square-foot venue will seat 150 and include four private rooms.

A sukiyaki bowl from Yakiniku Tamura.

 

A spicy poke and avocado bowl from Hale Mai.

 

Shinogu Sato and Yotaro Takenaka made the most of the tasting.

 

$1 beers will be among the draws.

 

Also from Gashoken, shrimp ramen with intense shrimp broth. Love it!

 

Gashoken's introductory menu.

 

Promising sweet treats to come, these faux fruit-filled and creme brulée crepes were on display at one of the vendor booths.

 

jvw rest

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Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her food coverage in print in Wednesday's Crave section. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Agu expands menu and horizons

By
February 25th, 2014



aguOne of Agu Ramen's "originals," a bowl of kotteri tonkotsu.Nadine Kam photos

Expanding the way we think about wine and food, Agu A Ramen Bistro was the setting for a unique pairing of affordable wines with Jidori ramen and yet-to-be-introduced small plates on Feb. 11. Some of the new side dishes only recently hit the menu on Feb. 21, coinciding with my review appearing in print on Feb. 26.

The wine event anticipates securing of a liquor license in the coming months, and the restaurant enlisted master sommelier Patrick Okubo to help with the pairings. Without knowing what the new dishes would be like, Okubo had his work cut out for him, but the selections he brought in meshed well with the restaurant's mix of deep-fried, spiced and savory flavors.

Agu quickly became my favorite ramen spot when it opened last fall, and here was no reason to believe it would ever offer more than top-notch ramen and gyoza. That was all anyone could expect and that was enough.

But co-owner and chef Hisashi Uehara, a stickler for such time-consuming details as boiling down pork bones for 18 hours to break down fat, marrow, calcium, minerals and proteins to arrive at a thick, opaque broth, wasn't done yet. He had busily been working on new dishes to add to Agu's basic menu, and I have a feeling he's not done yet.
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Agu is at 925 Isenberg St., in the Saint Louis Alumni Clubhouse. Call 808.492.1637.

aguramenI thought it couldn't get better than this shio tonkotsu, but updated versions of the ramen now come with butter, silky se-abura (pork fat), or a mound of  freshly grated Parmesan cheese, below.

agparm

agpatrickMaster sommerlier Patrick Okubo served Secateurs, Chenin Blanc, Coastal Region, S. Africa 2012 ($15.27) with the gyoza and  Jidori kawa (crispy chicken skin). He said, "The high acid played off of the gyoza because of the vinegar sauce and the Jidori kawa because of the tart ponzu sauce.  The high acid sensations cancelled out each other so you could taste the sweet flavors in the food and the fruit in the wine." Chenin blanc happens to be a grape with a natural acidity that compliments other high acid foods.

agyozaDelicious pork and vegetable gyoza with light, thin skins delivering a satisfying brittle crackle.

agchefAgu chef Hisashi Uehara delivers a plate of Jidori kawa, crispy chicken skin.

agwineLincourt, "Lindsey's" Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills 2011 ($22.50) and Buglioni, Il Viggliaco, Brut Rose, Veneto 2011  ($27). 

agsoybeansThe Il Viggliaco, comprising 100 percent Molinara grapes paired best with the piri kara menma  (spiced bamboo shoots, background) because of spice was offset by the wine's 1.2 percent sugar content. Its refreshing acid tones also paired well with the kotteri garlic edamame, and the spice of the Volcano sauce accompanying the mimiga, or deep-fried pork ears.

agporkThe lush sweetness of the Lincourt pinot was a good match for the char siu pork because of the richness without the tannin. Pork doesn't require the tannin that you'd find in darker skinned grapes such as cabernet so the pinot will not overpower the pork.

agpateThe Lincourt also was a good companion for the chicken liver paté that looks like a scoop of chocolate ice cream. The paté made by Thomas Jones, president of REI Food Service, parent to Agu and Gyotaku Japanese restaurants.

(more…)

First course: Plenty to savor at Sushi Ginza Onodera

By
February 12th, 2014



onoyellowSushi of yellowtail that was marinated five hours in a light blend of soy sauce, shiitake, mirin and sake and lightly seared. Topped with daikon and aged negi. True bliss, at Sushi Ginza Onodera.Nadine Kam photos

Honolulu has always been a great city for sushi lovers because of our access to great catch and resulting numbers of sushi bars. But Sushi Ginza Onodera is a game-changer in this town because nothing else is comparable. Sushi here is exceptional, accented here and there with a bit of yuzu, ginger, seasoned salt or a brushstroke of soy sauce and fresh grated wasabi to bring out the seafood's best attributes.

For that, you'll pay a price. Onodera's omakase meals are set at $160, $200 and $250. For $160, you get one appetizer and 13 pieces of nigiri sushi. The $200 menu features four appetizers and about 11 pieces of sushi. For $250, you get five appetizers and about 13 pieces of sushi. The $200 menu seemed like a happy medium for the variety of appetizers that are subject to change on a daily, seasonal basis. On the plus side, as in Japan, you don't have to pay a gratuity.

The experience could prove to be a life changer as well. For myself:

Fallacy No. 1: I would rather spend money on fashion than food. Most of us are not millionaires, so we make sacrifices to acquire and do the things we want, whether to travel, take classes, dine out or acquire the latest shoe or handbag. To eat here again, friends tell me I have to sacrifice buying one new handbag, and I find myself willing to do just that.

Fallacy No. 2: I don’t like uni. My late husband loved uni, so it was great when we ordered nigiri sets. He could claim the one piece that I wanted no part of. He often urged me to try it, and I would take a nibble. I never changed my mind. It was always too strong and pungent to be palatable. After trying it in Tokyo last year, I realized not all uni is created equally. There, it was mild and sweet. A local fisherman friend suggested it may be because of the urchins' diet. The purple and bafun uni here are also sweet and creamy, both with distinctive flavor. I ate up every single bit of both, and may have finally become a true believer.

Here is an array from the $200 omakase:

onoyamAmuse: Yamaimo with a touch of soy sauce, okra and shaved bonito, over a layer of delicate cucumber froth.

The appetizers:

onosashimiSashimi of sea bass and yellowtail, marinated as sushi at top.

onoappWhole, thumb-size firefly squid from Kyoga prefecture, Japan, and steamed Big Island abalone at its most delicious, sweet and tender. With fresh grated wasabi.

onosacWaxy shirako, or cod sperm sac with a pinch of scallop-shiitake salt.

onocrabHokkaido hairy crab chawanmushi.

The nigiri+:

ononigiriBig-eye tuna and gizzard shad. (more…)

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