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Choi’s Garden Blossoms With Healthy Cuisine

Cover Story Features

April 14, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

When owner Hyosook Choi opened the doors to Choi’s Garden in 2000, she was planting the seeds of her dreams. Choi, a former housewife from Korea, always hoped to one day own her own restaurant, and today, 12 years later, Choi’s Garden is flourishing — sprouting up new culinary concepts and harvesting authentic Korean cuisine.

“Choi’s Garden really emphasizes home cooking, and we always utilize the freshest meats and vegetables. We really want to highlight healthy cuisine and the importance of all-natural ingredients,” says host Temi Chang.

Located on Rycroft Street not far from Keeaumoku Street, or “Koreamoku,” as it’s affectionately called, the eatery, which seats close to 200 patrons, is a “secret garden” for those who crave a traditional Korean meal.

“We’re especially known for our yakiniku, priced around $24.99. The beef that we use is top-grade and very fresh,” Chang says. “Customers have the option of cooking up meats such as Spicy Pork, Barbecue Chicken, Kal Bi or Brisket.

“Graduation season is approaching, so we expect to host many graduation parties, and yakiniku is really popular, so we’re featuring a handful of appetizers to pair with yakiniku,” she adds.

Appetizers include Long Rice with Pan-Fried Vegetables ($15.95), Steamed Butterfish (spicy or mild, $23.99), Spicy Rice Cake ($11.99) and Homemade Fried Mondoo ($11.99). These appetizers are perfect for sharing among family and friends, and Chang recommends pairing Spicy Rice Cake and Homemade Fried Mondoo for an unforgettable meal.

However, here at Choi’s Garden it’s clearly impossible for yakiniku itself to take all the glory when there are a plethora of items that are equally delicious. Take, for example, Sang Kal Bi aka Seasoned Prime Short Rib ($24.99), and Healthy Stone Pot Rice, which features Stone Pot Rice with Date, Beans, Sweet Pumpkin, Kal Bi and Soup (Miso, Kim Chee or Soft Tofu) ($17.96).

“With our Stone Pot Rice dishes you can choose from meats or fish,” Chang explains. “Usually in Korea you would eat it with fish, but for locals we offer kal bi, too.

“Locals also enjoy a favorite appetizer of Special Shoyu Sauce Raw Crab ($34.99). The crab is always fresh.”

Choi’s Garden draws in hungry diners with its shabu shabu selections as well, be it Beef Shabu Shabu ($44.90) or Seafood Shabu Shabu ($44.90). Ideally meant to be shared among a party of two or three, Choi’s Garden’s Shabu Shabu is a nutritious option for those who are health conscious.

“Beef Brisket is our most-requested shabu shabu selection,” Chang says. “With all of our shabu shabu dishes we give you a lot of vegetables including Chinese cabbage, bell peppers, onions, green onions, zucchini and enoki mushrooms, and people usually order more meat because the meat is tasty — it’s very thin and tender.”

And according to Chang, there is a proper way to indulge in Choi’s Shabu Shabu. It’s all in the technique.

“You wait until the broth boils and then you put in the vegetables (although not at once), then you take the veggies out once they’re cooked and you add the meat to the broth. Finally, once the meat is cooked, you dip the veggies and meat in the sauce that you like. With the leftover broth, you add udon to it, and that in itself is a second meal,” she explains.

Here at Choi’s Garden you have it all — home-style Korean favorites that are delicious and nutritious, but it gets even better. Choi’s Garden goes above and beyond by providing an assortment of banchan (side dishes) with every meal and boasts the best in customer service as well. Planning for a special occasion? Choi’s Garden has three private dining rooms available to meet your needs. Each room can seat close to 15 people comfortably, and the rooms can be expanded for larger parties. Rooms must be reserved ahead of time and there is no additional cost.

“I think we’ve been so successful over the years because we are committed to serving healthy food and providing the best customer service,” Chang says with a smile. “We have many loyal customers, which we are grateful for.”

Choi’s Garden

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