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Foodie Fare

Cooking Up Authentic Okonomiyaki

Story By Christina O'Connor Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
April 1 - 7, 2012

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As two customers walk into Shochan one late afternoon last week, they are immediately greeted by the restaurant’s friendly staff — and after they place their order, owner and head chef Shinji Yamamoto gets to work. He pours batter onto the stove and seasons it with bonito powder while it cooks. Next, he fries up a mixture of noodles, bean sprouts, pork and cabbage before briskly cracking and frying an egg. In one fluid motion, he expertly joins all of the ingredients together, then adds a sweet brown sauce on top of the egg.

  • Oden Fried Tofu ($2), Rice Cake ($2), Tendon ($2), Konnyaka ($1), Ito Konnyaka ($1) and Egg ($1)
  • Yaki Edamame ($3)
  • Kushiage Shrimp with Shiso ($2), Tarako ($2.50), Scallop ($3), Pumpkin ($1), Pork Lion ($2), Enokimushoom with Bacon ($1.50) and Okra with Cheese ($1.50)
  • Okonomiyaki Hiroshima Style ($7.80)
  • Server/cook Nathan Yoshii with Okonomiyaki Hiroshima Style
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Yamamoto is making Shochan’s signature dish — Okonomiyaki Hiroshima Style ($7.80). This healthy dish is popular in Japan, but seems to be hard to find here in the Islands. With Shochan, okonomiyaki enthusiasts are in luck. The restaurant offers authentic, tasty okonomiyaki, as well as a number of other flavorful dishes.

In addition to Hiroshima-style, the restaurant also offers Kansai-style okonomiyaki — with Pork ($7.80), Squid ($10.80) or Shrimp ($10.80).

Shochan opened its Kapahulu eatery in February for lunch, and started serving dinner as well last month. Previously, Shochan had been located on University Avenue since 2007. Fans of the previous location can still find their old favorites at the new location, along with a number of added menu items.

New menu items include two categories of tasty treats: Teppanyaki and Kushiage. Teppanyaki dishes include Pork ($9), Beef ($10), Chicken ($8) and Scallop ($12). For lunch, which is served from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., certain Teppanyaki items are offered as a set with pupu, rice and miso soup. Kushiage (which many people order as appetizers) options include Pumpkin ($1), Enoki Mushroom with Bacon ($1.50), Okra with Cheese ($1.50), Pork Loin ($2), Shrimp with Shiso ($2) and Tarako ($2.50).

Shochan also offers pupu options such as Yaki Edamame ($3) and Fried Chicken ($6).

Yamamoto says that in addition to okonomiyaki, oden is another popular menu item. Oden contains various ingredients bathed in a flavorful broth, and diners can pick the items they want.

Shochan’s oden offerings include Ito Konnyaku ($1), Konnyaku ($1), Egg ($1), Rice Cake ($2), Fried Tofu ($2) and Tendon ($2).

Another added feature at the new location is an open stove top at the back of the dining room — where customers can watch in awe as Yamamoto works.

“We wanted customers to be able to see and enjoy how we cook our food,” Yamamoto explains.

The restaurant currently is in the process of obtaining its liquor license.

On the Side

If you’ve never tried okonomiyaki, there is no better place to start than Shochan. After all, the restaurant brings the authentic tastes of the Japanese dish right to its kitchen.

Owner and head chef Shinji Yamamoto grew up cooking okonomiyaki. Yamamoto explains that in Hiroshima, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of okonomiyaki restaurants. Among those eateries is one owned by his grandmother-in-law.

When he came to the Islands, Yamamoto noticed there weren’t any restaurants serving okonomiyaki the way his grandmother-in-law makes it.

“There are many Kansai-style okonomiyaki restaurants in the United States, but there are no Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki restaurants,” Yamamoto says. “So I wanted to be the first one.

“We pretty much took the store from Hiroshima and brought it here,” Yamamoto says. “It’s the same atmosphere — you will feel like you’re in Hiroshima.”

Many of Shochan’s ingredients are imported from Japan — including the tasty okonomiyaki sauce.

Plus, Yamamoto says that with all of its vegetables — such as bean sprouts and a heaping pile of cabbage — Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki is very healthy.

“We just want everybody to know about okonomiyaki and enjoy it,” Yamamoto says.

Shochan Hiroshimayaki

  • Where
    • 449 Kapahulu Avenue
    • Honolulu, HI 96815
  • Call
    • (808) 225-0603
  • Hours
    • 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Wednesday – Monday
    • Closed on Tuesdays
    • Last orders are taken at 9 p.m.