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Pupu Picks

Keeping Up With Kobe Flair

Story By Steve Murray Photos By Leah Friel
February 26 - March 3, 2012

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Any restaurant that waits 40 years to start an appetizer menu should take care to do it right. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar has got it right. The varied menu contains any number of tasty options that span the range of simple snacks to near meals. A perfect example is Sixty Nine Roll ($17) that features tender braised unagi over a large California roll that is cut into eight pieces. Reaction to this combo was one of wide eyes, mostly muted “mmm’s” and “oh my’s”, and followed by a large smile with claims of undying devotion. Yeah, it’s good.

  • Sweet Potato Fries ($7)
  • Emperor Appetizer ($23.95)
  • Chef Kevin Pagaduan with Kobe's pupu classics.
  • Ahi Poke Salad ($10)
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Mimi’s Famous Mini Lumpia ($8) has to be the coolest thing on the menu because it is made each day by chef Kevin Pagadoan’s aunt, Mimi Gozor. The crispy wraps are lightly seasoned and filled with ground pork, minced onion, garlic and carrots and served with a sweet chili sauce. Unlike most similar snacks that are dependent on dipping sauces for flavor, Auntie Mimi gets it right with a wrap that is light but has a slightly tangy flavor to boot.

Another simple finger snack is Sweet Potato Fries ($7). The simply prepared fries are naturally sweet and lightly salted. Pair with either the Dynamite or Firecracker aioli, and you have quite a combination.

Looking for something a bit more filling or something with greater sharing potential? Try Emperor Appetizer ($23.95). The highly decorative platter comes stocked with ahi, yellowtail, salmon, snapper, clam, shrimp and salmon roe sushi to go with six small tuna rolls, wasabi and shaved ginger.

The fish-to-rice portion is just right as is the sushi rice mixture, which has a perfect vinegar and sugar blend that is neither too sweet nor too sour. An error either way can practically ruin the seafood accompaniment.

One final option to consider before rushing out the door is Ahi Poke Salad ($10). The large mound of fresh tuna is mixed with green onion, fresh garlic, onion, cucumber, sesame oil, salt, sugar and shoyu, and served over a bed of baby greens, sliced tomato with a light vinaigrette. The buttery fish is creamy, plentiful and is nicely paired with the cucumber and onion to create a varied texture profile that is both soft and crunchy. Enjoy.

Kobe Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

  • Where
    • 1841 Ala Moana Boulevard
    • Honolulu, HI 96815
  • Call
    • (808) 941-4444
  • Hours
    • 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Open daily for dinner only
    • Lounge opens at 5 p.m.
  • Website
  • Notes
    • Valet parking available in front of the restaurant.