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Choi's Garden Sprouts Up Home-Style Meals
Foodie Fare

Choi’s Garden Sprouts Up Home-Style Meals

Story By Christina O'Connor Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
November 6 - 12, 2011

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Located on Rycroft Street not far from Keeaumoku, which is known as the main drag for Korean cuisine, Choi’s Garden is a hidden gem of tasty Korean eats.

  • A variety of vegetables and rice in a hot stone pot ($15.99)
  • Stone Pot Rice + Kal Bi + Soup (Miso or Kim Chee or Soft Tofu) with a variety of side dishes ($17.96)
  • Ho Pak Pumpkin Mochi Rice ($15.95)
  • Seafood Pancake ($15.99)
  • Owner Hyosook Choi with the Ho Pak Pumpkin Mochi Rice.
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The restaurant was founded 10 years ago by owner Hyosook Choi, who brings home-style know-how to the kitchen. “I started cooking at home for my kids,” Choi explains. “The dishes here are traditional, home-cooked Korean food.”

Such dishes include the Seafood Pancake ($15.99) and Bi Bim Bap ($9.98), which is rice mixed with a variety of vegetables. One of the most popular dishes is Naeng Myon ($7.89 for lunch, $10.50 for dinner), which is cold buckwheat noodles served in a chilled soup.

For an unbeatable combination, try any of the Stone Pot Rice dishes, which include Stone Pot Rice with Date, Beans, Sweet Pumpkin + Kal Bi + Soup (Miso or Kim Chee or Soft Tofu) ($17.96).

Choi’s Garden also offers a wide selection of specials, like the Choi’s Special ($47.50, serves two people), which features Kal Bi, Barbecue Yellow Corvina, Seasoned Raw Crab, Fish Fritters, Seafood Soft Tofu Stew, Rice Mixed with Vegetables in Hot Stone Pot, Dried Nori, Seasoned Vegetables and Kim Chee. Other selections include a number of Lunch Specials, like the Spicy BBQ Chicken Plate ($7.98) and Bi Bim Kook Soo ($7.98), which is somen noodles mixed with beef in a spicy sauce. The Lunch Special options are served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Choi’s also offers Yakiniku options. You can cook up meats like Kal Bi, Brisket, Spicy Pork and Barbecue Chicken.

And Choi’s Garden is an ideal venue to come for special occasions. With three private rooms, guests can enjoy any event from a birthday celebration to a business lunch. Each room holds 15 people, and the rooms also can be combined for larger parties. Rooms need to be reserved ahead of time, but there is no additional cost to use the space.

Choi is always in the kitchen, thinking up new dishes. She says that the restaurant typically debuts at least a couple of new dishes each year. “I have a lot of ideas for making the food,” says Choi. Currently, she’s cooking up new treats for the new year.

On the Side

Choi’s Garden strives to serve up dishes that not only taste good, but also are good for you. In concocting dishes, owner Hyosook Choi tries to create healthy, nutritious menu items.

Choi explains that traditional Korean dishes are typically very healthy. “In Korea, we are concerned with health and well-being,” says Choi. “So I am always thinking about all healthy foods … And that’s what I hope the customers will eat.”

The Stone Pot dishes are among the healthier options, says Choi. These are served with organic black rice and beans. The Stone Pot Rice also doubles as a nutritious soup. Choi explains that the rice becomes hard on the bottom of the pot, which can be made into a sweet soup when combined with berry tea. Plus, the stone pot meals come with a variety of side dishes that allow limitless refills. “It’s popular right now,” Choi says of the stone pots. “The locals really like it.”

Another nourishing option is the Ho Pak Pumpkin Mochi Rice ($15.95), which Choi says is quickly becoming a customer favorite. The dish features a medley of berries, nuts and seeds embedded in mochi rice. The best part is that the dish is served inside of a half-pumpkin, which complements the rice perfectly.

Plus, Choi says, the spiciness of many of the dishes is a good way to get rid of germs. But for those who can’t handle the heat, most of the dishes can also be toned down to accommodate the more mild palate.

“We are trying our best to help our customers eat healthy food,” says Choi.

Such concern extends also to the restaurant’s quality customer service. The staff is helpful and friendly, and Choi can often be seen wandering the restaurant to check up on her customers. “We are trying to give the best customer service that we can,” she says.

Choi’s Garden

  • Where
    • 1303 Rycroft Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96814
  • Call
    • (808) 596-7555
  • Hours
    • Open daily
    • 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.