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Foodie Fare

Quality Comfort Food

Story By Christina O'Connor Photos By Leah Friel
February 19 - 25, 2012

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Although Hinone Mizunone is the Hawaii progeny of a Japanese food chain, operations manager Eiki Tamaki doesn’t consider the restaurant’s cuisine to be standard Japanese fare. Instead, he says it’s homestyle Japanese cooking — and that the King Street eatery is more of a mix of authentic Japanese food and local-style eats. The result is a tasty fusion-filled menu that attracts Japanese visitors and locals alike.

  • Japanese Style Omelet ($4.50)
  • Tempura ($13)
  • Chicken Ama-Kara Age ($11)
  • Butterfish Misoyaki ($14.75)
  • Server Hajime Saito
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“It is comfort food, everyday food,” Tamaki explains.

Some customers, it seems, have taken Tamaki’s description of Hinone’s cuisine quite literally — a few regulars frequent the restaurant almost every day. And as of recently, the restaurant is now open seven days a week, so Hinone loyalists don’t have to dread Sundays anymore.

With a wide variety of teishoku (combo) meal options, repeat customers can constantly try something different. One popular teishoku selection is Tempura ($13), which includes shrimp, squid and vegetable tempura. Other popular teishoku options are Butterfish Misoyaki ($14.75) and Chicken Ama-Kara Age ($11), which is crispy fried chicken with daikon and ginger sauce. All teishoku dishes are served with rice, miso soup, two side dishes and pickles. For lunch, teishoku meals include one main dish selection. For dinner, you can choose two main dishes — all for $17.75.

“The udon and the curry are also popular,” says Tamaki.

Udon dishes include Shrimp Tempura Udon ($8) and Kitsune Udon ($6.50). Curry selections feature Karaage Curry ($8.50) and Chicken Katsu Curry ($9.50).

Tasty side dishes such as Japanese Style Omelette ($4.50) are a great addition to any meal.

For diners on the go, Hinone’s bentos are a must-have. Bentos are available for pick-up Monday through Saturday. Bentos with a variety of options, including Salmon, Tonkatsu, Butterfish, Chicken Katsu, Unagi and Hamburger, are made fresh each day. Prices vary, and the selection changes day-to-day. The bentos make a perfect to-go lunch, but you better hurry — Tamaki warns that bentos are often sold out by 1 p.m. Each bento includes gobo, pickled vegetables, egg and croquette.

For even more variety, check out Hinone’s lunch specials. Offerings for February include Garlic Chicken Katsu Teishoku, Ahi/Vegetable Tempura Teishoku and Salmon Tempura Bowl. These lunch specials change every month and are $8.50 each.

On the Side

Hinone Mizunone is the first U.S.-based restaurant of Fujio Foods Systems — a prolific food chain that owns hundreds of restaurants and cafes in Japan. The restaurant gets its name from the way it makes its famous rice.

It uses an an old-fashioned pot over fire.

“Hinone means ‘sound of water,'” Tamaki explains. “And Mizunone means ‘sound of fire.’ We got this name because when you cook the rice in this old-fashioned pot, that’s what you hear — the fire and the water.”

Tamaki adds that they carefully watch each batch of rice to ensure that it’s cooked perfectly. The result is tasty, fluffy rice that has all the customers raving about it.

“We are known for our rice,” Tamaki says. “You can taste the difference. It has a sweetness to it.”

The kind of careful attention that Hinone Mizunone gives to its rice is the same type of treatment that customers can expect. Servers are friendly and attentive. As diners walk in and out of the restaurant, Tamaki greets them warmly.

“I want to make them feel at home,” he says.

Hinone Mizunone

  • Where
    • 1345 South King Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96814
  • Call
    • (808) 942-4848
  • Hours
    • Open Daily
    • 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.