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Healthy Helpings at Hanaki
Inside Feature

Healthy Helpings at Hanaki

Story By Kelli Shiroma Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
October 9 - 15, 2011

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After nearly 15 years of offering items off a highly desirable buffet menu, Hanaki Restaurant decided to make a drastic switch last May and go shabu shabu.

  • A pottery statue of a tanuki (Japanese racoon dog) greets customers at Hanaki Restaurant. Rubbing the tummy of the tanuki is believed to bring good luck. File photo
  • Fresh Prime Rib Beef, along with some tofu, udon, and lobster balls in Sukiyaki and konbu soup base.
  • Vegetable choices abound at Hanaki. File photo
  • A customer prepares to dip a slice of raw meat into a hot pot. File photo
  • The entrance to the Manoa Marketplace eatery. File photo
  • The Barnum family — Rene, Amber, Alysa and Rexie — enjoying a delightful shabu shabu meal.
  • Combination plates go for $9.95 and $12.95. File photo
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“(At Hanaki), we wanted to have a family restaurant and to have good-tasting food that’s affordable,” says manager Mark Mitsuyoshi. “We liked the idea of shabu shabu for many years now; it has more variety and it’s healthier. Your family can receive all the vegetable servings they need and the average price (per customer) is $12-$13. Our shabu shabu has a great variety of different, fresh, locally grown vegetables, sliced meats and seafood.”

If customers opt for shabu shabu, they must first select the type of soup they want ($5). Soup flavors range from the Konbu — light, seaweed-based udon soup — to the Sukiyaki, a heavier soup with shoyu and sugar.

“These soups give the foods that you choose flavor,” explains Mitsuyoshi. “We have mild soups, stronger soups and spicy soups. The most popular soups are the Konbu, Miso (medium, traditional Japanese soybean paste) and Sukiyaki.”

After choosing their soup flavors, customers can choose a variety of ingredients to add to their soups. Each of these ingredients — meats, seafood and vegetables — are located in bowls or plates color-coded by price.

“We list our prices by container because it’s easy to understand; we have such a large variety (of items),” says Mitsuyoshi.

For the green bowls ($2.50), the most popular choices include Chinese cabbage, baby pak choy and the udon noodle. Other available options include tofu, vegetable soba, bamboo shoots and ramen. According to Mitsuyoshi, the Inoki mushrooms are the most popular of the red bowls ($3.50), which also offer shiitake mushrooms, lobster balls and ika fishcake. Plates ($4.50) feature options such as clams, baby octopus, fish fillet, lamb and salmon.

“The prime rib and the sliced squid are the most popular choices (for the plates),” says Mitsuyoshi. “We have more than 35 types of meat and seafood and more than 40 different kinds of vegetables to choose from.”

For customers who are unsure of which ingredients to add to their soup, Hanaki offers suggestions located above the ingredients, based on broth type. For example, mustard cabbage, a variety of mushrooms, tofu, long rice and corn would be an excellent combination with a spicy soup base, whereas those with a Konbu base should choose ingredients such as romaine lettuce, choi sum, oyster mushrooms, udon noodles or broccoli for the best results.

A sauce station and a shave ice station also are available for those who choose the shabu shabu option at Hanaki, according to Mitsuyoshi, who adds the latter is extremely well-liked among customers.

“For some reason, the taste of shave ice is very refreshing after the hot soup,” he says. “Everybody seems to enjoy it. We also offer beer, wine, hot sake and premium iced sake.”

While the shabu shabu has been popular among customers, people still choose items from Hanaki’s a la carte menu. Twoor three-choice combination plates are available ($9.95 and $12.95), as are choices of various udon bowls or donburi meals.

“The shrimp tempura, chicken karaage and misoyaki butterfish are still our most popular hot food items,” says Mitsuyoshi. “We had them during the buffet time and people remember them. The Nabeyaki Udon ($12.95) — shrimp tempura, chicken, egg and vegetables — and Shrimp Udon ($11.95) would be the most popular of the udon bowls. And everyone’s familiar with the Chicken Donburi ($11.95), comprising tender chicken, cabbage, onions and egg.”

Although the majority of its customers dine in, Hanaki offers takeout options for items on both, the a la carte menu and for shabu shabu, much to the delight of its clientele.

“Practically everything is available for takeout,” Mitsuyoshi confirms. “We had some people make a list of things they want (for shabu shabu), we cooked it and they picked it up. You’re (also) welcome to take home your food after you finish dining. Some people want to make lunch for the next day, so they’ll add in a little bit more and we’ll pack it for them.”

Hanaki Restaurant

  • Where
    • Manoa Marketplace
    • 2756 Woodlawn Drive
    • Honolulu, HI 96822
  • Call
    • (808) 988-1551
  • Hours
    • 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    • 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday – Monday
    • Closed on Tuesdays