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A Restaurant for Every Occasion
Inside Feature

A Restaurant for Every Occasion

Story By Alana Folen Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
April 17 - 23, 2011

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Local Japanese fare meets contemporary elegance at Kochi Restaurant & Lounge, the ever-bustling eatery that caters to just about everyone.

  • Exquisite presentation is key at Kochi.
  • Kochi general manager Reid Mochizuki and server Desiree Ouchi show off a couple of local favorites to repeat customers.
  • Spicy Garlic Furikake Chicken ($7.95/$11.95 family style)
  • Kurobuta Kakuni ($18.95)
  • Blackened Ahi ($18.95)
  • Ten-piece Take Nigiri Set ($27.95)
  • Japanese and domestic beers, sake, wine and cocktails are offered nightly at Kochi's bar.
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Dining Out recently sat down with general manager Reid Mochizuki, who was eager to share how Kochi keeps bringing customers back time and time again.

DO: Kochi Restaurant & Lounge has proven to be a popular hotspot among locals craving tasty grinds. Tell us more about the restaurant’s philosophy.

Mochizuki: Kochi opened a little more than three years ago and we brand ourselves as a local-style Japanese restaurant. Many of the dishes are quite reflective of our customer base and incorporate many local flavors.

DO: What exactly brings out the local flavors in your food? Also, what are some of your most-requested dishes?

Mochizuki: We use a lot of ingredients like fresh ahi, fresh salmon and fresh tako, for instance. There are many things here that locals who dine here will be very familiar with. We have the Shrimp Tempura Roll with Spicy Tuna ($13.95). It’s dressed with a Kabayaki sauce (sweet, soy-based sauce), that doesn’t overwhelm the dish — it has a really nice, clean flavor. And the spicy tuna itself is a creation of our sushi chef Aaron Kumura. It has a nice kick to it and is a bit spicier than your average spicy tuna.

The Take Nigiri Set ($27.95) is a 10-piece assortment of fresh Nigiri sushi with hamachi salmon, New Zealand snapper, eel, scallop, squid and more.

Customers also can’t miss out on one of our signature dishes, the Kurobuta Kakuni ($18.95), the highest quality braised pork in a shoyu-ginger stock served with a hatcho miso reduction. The meat is fork-tender, and we work really hard on that dish. I also recommend our Spicy Garlic Furikake Chicken ($7.95, $11.95 family style). This dish features tasty boneless chicken filets served with garlic aioli and furikake.

The Blackened Ahi ($18.95) is another favorite. The fresh ahi is flavored with a shichimi (Japanese red pepper) cream sauce and a kabayaki drizzle.

DO: Who’s the mastermind behind all these wonderful creations?

Mochizuki: Kochi’s senior partner Lee Takara is ultimately responsible for menu development. We have more than 100 items on the menu, so there’s pretty much something for everyone.

DO: Readers will be pleased to know that no MSG is added to Kochi’s cuisine. Many turn to you folks when it comes to celebrating special events as well as casual dinners with the family, correct?

Mochizuki: Yes, the restaurant is very accommodating to large groups. We can seat parties of 20 to 30 people for regular dinner service, and the weekends are when we cater to a lot of parties.

DO: Kochi also offers a special birthday promotion and a special deal for the keiki. What is that about?

Mochizuki: If you show your ID within five days of your birthday, you receive a free entree when accompanied by at least two paying adults. On Mondays and Tuesdays, kids eat free with at least one paying adult. Our kid’s menu offers a choice of chicken katsu, hamburger steak, teriyaki chicken, breaded mahimahi or teri beef for $4.95. All plates off the kids’ menu also come with a soft drink and ice cream.

DO: All entrees are served a la carte here, but there are dinner combination sets available as well?

Mochizuki: Yes. Everything here is served family-style, but we do have two-choice ($18.95) and three-choice ($22.95) sets that come with green salad, miso soup, rice and ice cream. Diners can select from a wide range of entrees, such as shrimp tempura, ahi poke, teriyaki chicken, shoyu garlic ahi,

New York steak, sashimi, chicken katsu, misoyaki salmon and teri beef.

Also, we do have an early bird special, so between 5 and 6:30 p.m., any of our a la carte dishes come with a free rice and miso soup set.

DO: You say the best way to enjoy the food here is to order family-style — that way you get to sample a little bit of everything, right?

Mochizuki: Yes. Our steaks are already pre-cut for you, as well as our pork chops, so everything can be easily passed around. And our entire menu is available throughout the entire restaurant, whether you choose to eat in the dining room, lounge or bar. Our regulars who frequent the lounge also will bring their friends and family to have dinner or celebrate special occasions in our dining room. And vice versa, some people don’t know we have a lounge, when people find out they can receive the same food served in the dining room while relaxing in the lounge with a beer — they love that.

DO: What is offered at the bar that draws in the crowds on a regular basis?

Mochizuki: We have a good selection of Japanese and domestic beers, sake, wine and cocktails. It’s a pretty extensive list.

DO: What do you think makes Kochi so appealing to diners?

Mochizuki: I think it’s how we respond to our local community. We welcome our guests to come in with their shorts or slippers; it’s basically a restaurant for every occasion. Our menu has changed over time in response to our customers who have made suggestions. It makes a difference because such a large percentage of our customers are repeat customers, so we really get to know them and in turn they give us positive feedback.

Kochi Restaurant and Lounge

  • Where
    • 1936 South King Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96826
  • Call
    • (808) 941-2835
  • Hours
    • 5 p.m. – midnight
    • Sunday – Thursday
    • 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.
    • Friday – Saturday
    • 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Happy Hour daily
  • Notes
    • Check for happy hour specials.
  • Website