Archive for May, 2010

11
May
10

Midnight Munchies Spotlight: Aki-no-no Dishes

WARNING: If you love Japanese food and are looking at this blog at night you will get hungry! Hungry enough to go to Aki-no-no for a snack!

One of my big cravings at night is Japanese food. Sushi, small grilled dishes, and a spot of Japanese beer or sake can really take care of anxious taste buds. I love salty and simple, and then washing it down with something dry and smooth. So it’s no surprise that I can be found often at Aki-no-no. This little gem, across from Puck’s Alley, offers not just one, but multiple midnight munchies for me.

I highly recommend checking it out late night. Added to the tasty dishes (pictured below) is that it has that cozy feeling of a small, authentic sushi bar found in the neighborhood in Japan. The owners of Aki-no-no are also the proud parents of the J-pop star Yuna Ito.

Let the parade of pictures begin!

Always a favorite, unagi nigiri!

Don't take my temaki rolls! They are so delicious.

Fried oysters are fantastic in my mouth!

Tempura pumpkin - tempting aren't they?

Yakisoba, always simple and tasty.

Grilled beef tongue, leaves me speechless every time!

These are baby bok chois (Chinese vegetables), but unfortunately they are NOT bacon-wrapped enoki, which I have no picture of this time, but always order . . .

Btw, I know what you are all thinking that was not a snack, that was enough food for a meal . . . alright, it was a snack meal! DON’T JUDGE ME!

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11
May
10

Quick Lunch Review: Ichiben’s Shoyu Ramen + 4 Gyoza

Shoyu ramen, perflecty salty and meaty . . .

Lately, when I find myself in Aiea or Pearl City area and I’m craving ramen I head to Ichiben. Ezogiku at Waimalu and Pearl City have frequently gone down in quality as the noodles are too “eggy” or soggy. I like Ichiben because it is fast, cheap, and much tastier compared to Ezogiku.

I’ve gone many times to Ichiben, but I’m going to focus on the Shoyu ramen. Why? Because Shoyu is pretty basic and if you can’t make Shoyu, you might as well give up in the ramen business.  At Ichiben the Shoyu ramen is not too salty, but is salty enough to compliment the four slices of char siu they give you. The noodles are good consistency. Not too thick, not chewy, but strong enough to hold some soup stock as you gulp them down.

These are meh, but can you really eat ramen without gyoza? Not to mention the price . . .

Lastly, this meal is awesome because for under $10 you also get four gyoza. The gyoza is not that great, in fact they are ok. I’m sure they would say them make them fresh like their soup stock, but they still taste like the frozen kind.  That being said for under $10 you can’t beat a substantial ramen plus gyoza.

Oh yeah, the service here is also very good. They are always happy, check on you constantly, and seem to be genuine when they say “thank you.” So I’m thankful I no longer need to go to Ezogiku when I’m in Aiea or Pearl City.

Yep, it was just $9.16, and I was in and out under 30 minutes!

05
May
10

Midnight Munchies Spotlight: Liliha Short Stack

One of my favorite places to grab pancakes in the middle of the night, even though it is totally unhealthy, is Liliha Bakery. This little gem of a diner in the heart of Liliha is the perfect place to hit up after clubbing, karaoke, or playing too much Rockband at your friend’s apartment.

Breakfast at midnight always hits an insomniac's spot.

Best part is that the batter used by Liliha’s staff is consistent. All the times I’ve gone it tastes the same. The pancakes are moist, nice-sized, and fluffy. They stand up to syrup quite nicely and lastly, you can get them fast. If you are craving something sweet, warm, and fluffy grab a short stack, you can be in and out there just as fast as any other fast food joint.

Catch you there in the middle of the night!

05
May
10

A Quick Lunch Review: Rokakku’s Unagi Set

Quick Line: If you want unagi and are stuck at Ala Moana Shopping Center just go to Shirokiya.

Before I left for my spring trip to Hong Kong and Japan, my friend and I met at Ala Moana shopping center to pick up some trip supplies. I had never been to Rokakku for lunch, and my friend had only been there for dinner. I thought that this mall-restaurant, that is meant to cater to the Japanese palette and the well-heeled shopper would at the very least do a decent lunch.

Looks like unagi, smells like unagi, does NOT taste like unagi!

Lunch was not decent. I would have been better served grabbing a bento from Shirokiya. Rokakku’s unagi just did not taste good to me P-E-R-I-O-D. One of my favorite places to get unagi is at Izuei in Ueno Park of Tokyo. To me Izuei (while it may be Osaka-style) captures the subtle flavors of the unagi, and the sides are just right. At Rokkaku, my unagi was too fishy tasting and was way too dry like it forgot it was a waterborne animal. The kabayaki sauce did nothing to hide this either. The salad that came before on the either hand was drowning in dressing as if to make up for the lack of greens.

The dressing to green ratio definitely indicates the dressing is winning by a large margin.

Now, some of you may say, wait a minute that is Tokyo?! How can a Honolulu, mall-based restaurant compare to an authentic Japanese experience? Normally, I would agree with you, but Rokakku bills itself as “Authentic Japanese Cuisine.” Moreover, Chef Hiroshi is a world-quality chef.  So I can compare and say find somewhere else for lunch. This review says nothing about their dinner.

Lastly, let me say that a week after this lunch I was in Kyoto and Tokyo eating good unagi, trying to erase this lunch from memory.

Look other stuff that came with the lunch set that I could not be bothered to write about because of the bad unagi.




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