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Oct 25, 2008 05:17 PM

Japanese Favorites on Oahu

Not necessarily Sushi... but Teppanyaki, Bistros, Curry Houses, Noodle Shops etc., Honolulu & Windward preferred.

Mahalo & Salud

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  1. A couple of my old favorites have closed in recent months. One place I still like is Yamagen, on S. King, right next to Longs, across the street from Chiang Mai (by old stadium park). Limited menu, some tempura, some noodles, some barbeque. I like sitting under the roof, kind of like being in someone's carport. I know, doesn't sound great, but its fun.

    I've been to Shokudo a couple of times, thought it was OK, not great. Friends tell me it is more "Hawaii kine" Japanese food. Irifune is very good, or used to be... the lines are long, havent been in a couple of years. Again this is localized somewhat. Gyotaku is a local favorite, the food I've had there has been good.

    I'd like to know more options myself

    1 Reply
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      Sunrise restaurant is my favorite rest in Honolulu its okinawan -- you should check out the nakami soup (pork tripe) if particularly adventrous but the Karei - kaarage is the best fried flounder I have ever had - maybe even best fish dish I have tasted.

      The owner at left is the friendliest owner I have ever met. He shared beer with me and gave me food

    2. I also like Sunrise, nice hole in the wall type of restaurant. A bit hard to see if you don't know where it is with almost mandatory street parking. Nice homestyle cooking and reservations are a must for the small dining room.

      Maguro-ya in Kaimuki has excellent teishoku meals, well priced for what you get. Includes miso soup, green salad, tsukemono, egg custard, entree of choice and rice. I especially like their whole deep fried flounder with its crispy bones or maguro (tuna) rib meat done karaage style.

      Imana's is also a favorite place for sushi and chanko-nabe (a stew of assorted meats and vegetables simmered in soup stock), perfect for chilly, rainy days like today. They have an extensive menu of cold and hot appetizers as well.

      1. Thanks for the recs.... my internet connection went down shortly after I posted... and we left the house "blindly"... well really we needed to do something at Ala Moana so we opted for the Teppanyaki place.... I have only ever been to 5 different Teppanyaki places in my life... and they have all been pretty much the same... same tricks, same menus, same flavor profiles etc.?

        Is there such a thing as a chow-worthy Teppanyaki place? Do chowhounds in Japan just sit around eating Kobe beef "tartar" thinking... I can't believe those dumb Americans are suckered into "our version of Chuck E. Cheese's?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Have you been to any of the many izakayas (they've been likened to Japanese tapas bars) in town? Three that I can recommend are Izakaya Nonbei (off of Kapahulu on Olu st.), Izakaya Gaku (King st.) and Tokkuri-tei (Kapahulu). There are plenty of places in the US to get sushi and teppanyaki, but I'd say Honolulu does izakaya fare better than most places, and there is something for everyone on the menu.

          Regarding teppanyaki, I've never actually eaten it in Japan (aside from okonomiyaki and monja). If the wikipedia entry is to be believed, it started in Japan but was a bigger hit with the foreigners than the locals.

          1. re: wild onion

            TOKKURI-TEI Kapahulu! Yes to this place, one of my favorites, variety and freshness!

        2. I think that in the 60s the Japanese - American population was the largest among groups in Hawaii. So it wasn't haoles taking up sushi way later as in the mainland, it was Japanese restaurants with Japanese food for us Buddha heads or Katonks. You should try Kaneohe side as well - where my cousins live.

          1. Have not eaten there, but based on watching the crowds pile in there, during the evenings and visually judging the ethnicity of these patrons, I'd say that Todai must be doing something correctly. Located on Ala Moana, just up from Ena Rd, and across from the HHV, Waikiki, it fills to an amazing level.

            Is the food good? I have no clue, but can 5,000 Oriental diners per night be wrong? Again, I have no clue.

            Probably not what you are looking for, but busy as heck. During the day, it appears to have gone out of business. Let the sun set, and both levels fill to overflowing capacity.

            We had one in Phoenix, and it lasted for about 6 mos.


            5 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Yeah I have eaten at a couple Mainland Todais and nothing chow worthy at all.

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                EN is right. It isn't great sushi, although I am told the one in waikiki is better than average. The japanese pile in because they can't believe the prices.

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  I have never dined at any. Almost did the one in Phoenix (in the one month that they were open), but just did not like the look, or the menu.

                  I was blown totally away by the major crowds every night on Ala Moana. You are probably correct about the pricing, but they are doing SOMETHING correctly at that shop.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Todai is fine.... believe or not, buffets are popular outside of the Plains States... their food is a notch below a good, local little Japanese joint... however, if you are looking to get stuffed up to the gills... then Todai would excite.... I just don't think that is what Chowhounds are about.

                    Think of it as comparing Hometown Buffet to a local Diner that uses Sysco ingredients but maximizes their potential. There are many who prefer Hometown over the local Diner because they prefer the variety & quantity over the slightly better food at the local Diner.... the Japanese are apparently not th exception.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal


                      Well-stated. Your analogy makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing.