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Ichiriki: Healthy Nabe, Happy Customers

Columns Order of the Day

October 29, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

“We make peoplehappy.” At Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant, the mission statement is simple, according to owner Issei Kazama.

  • Pipikaula Horensou ($6.95)
  • Mushroom Nabe ($24.95 dinner single, $51.95 dinner kami)
  • Seafood Nabe ($28.95 dinner single, $59.95 dinner kami)
  • Ichiriki partners Jason Wong and Masaki Sasada
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“Our mission statement is just two Japanese words,” he says. “One is ‘kandou‘ and the other is ‘kansha.’ ‘Kandou‘ means to make people happy to the point where they’re moved emotionally. ‘Kansha‘ is gratitude. I don’t know if there are a lot of restaurants that really try to make people happy, and that is one thing that we push — customers have to be happy.”

With an assortment of Japanese nabe — a term referring to many varieties of Japanese steamboat or one-pot dishes — as well as sukiyaki and shabu shabu options, customers are sure to be happy at Ichiriki. The restaurant first opened in Hawaii in 2006 on Piikoi Street — which Kazama refers to as the Ala Moana branch — and opened its second location this past June in Westridge, Aiea. The two locations are equally popular and crowded.

“The Aiea branch has more capacity, so there’s not that long of a wait,” he says. “Noon is the most crowded time for lunch; for dinner, it’s 6:30-8 p.m.”

Ichiriki’s lunch and dinner menus are centered around the eatery’s nabe specialties. For dinner, the nabe come in single and kami portions, made for one person or more than one person, respectively.

“We specialize in nabe hot pot so that’s all we have (on our menu), aside from a few appetizers (Pipikaula Horensou $6.95),” Kazama says. “Our lunch menu is basically our dinner menu, including our biggest selling dinner items made a little bit smaller and at half the price.”

Customer favorites include the Mushroom Nabe ($24.95 dinner single, $51.95 dinner kami), which features a wide assortment of seasonal mushrooms along with bok choy, tofu, kuzukiri, abura age, chives, gobo, chicken, pork, sausage, tsukune meatballs and won bok cabbage served with ramen noodles and rice. Also popular is the Seafood Nabe ($28.95 dinner single, $59.95 dinner kami), a shoyu-based nabe that comes with Madagascar shrimp, calamari, scallops, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, enoki, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, kuzukiri, abura age, chives, gobo, sausage, homemade tsukune meat-balls and snow crab. The Ichiriki Nabe ($11.95 lunch; $21.95 dinner single, $45.95 dinner kami), however — made from Shoyu-flavored soup stock and served with 16 different ingredients — still reigns as the eatery’s signature dish.

“The Ichiriki Nabe is very clean tasting,” explains Kazama. “It has 16 different items — it’s got a little bit of everything, some seafood, some meat, lots of vegetables. It’s very healthy; nothing is cooked in grease. The Mushroom Nabe is great; mushrooms are expensive outside of the supermarket and in this one (nabe), you get four different types of mushrooms. It’s a good alternative to meat. Our Seafood Nabe is all seafood with a bunch of vegetables.”

Ichiriki’s newest additions to the nabe specialties include the Tomato Nabe ($21.95 dinner single, $45.95 dinner kami) and the Paitan Nabe ($21.95 dinner single, $45.95 dinner kami). While the Tomato Nabe features a tomato-based soup stock served with 16 different ingredients, the Paitan Nabe is made with a pork broth soup.

“The Tomato Nabe is popular, but the Paitan Nabe is more popular,” confirms Kazama. “It’s (the Paitan) a pork broth; we usually use fish-based broths in our soups but this one is pork-based.”

Nabe entrees start at $11.95 for lunch and $22 for dinner. Kazama encourages customers to utilize the eatery’s senior discount, offered from Monday through Friday.

“Our senior discount is a 25 percent off for seniors 55 and older,” he says. “We’ve been doing that since 2007 at the Piikoi location. That’s really popular with the seniors.”

Ichiriki

  • Where
    • 510 Piikoi Street #102
    • Honolulu, HI 96814
    • 98-150 Kaonohi Street Suite C216
    • Aiea, HI 96701
  • Call
    • (808) 589-2299 (Piikoi)
    • (808) 484-2222 (Aiea)
  • Hours
    • Piikoi
    • Open daily
    • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Lunch)
    • 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Weekdays, 5 p.m. – midnight Fridays and Saturdays (Dinner)
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    • Aiea
    • Open daily
    • 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Lunch)
    • 4 p.m. – 11 p.m. Weekdays, 4 p.m. – midnight Fridays and Saturdays (Dinner)
  • Website