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Cover Story

Hinone’s Delicious Harmonies

Story By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
May 6 - 12, 2012

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Like yin and yang, Hinone Mizunone creates an ideal harmony that has worked since the restaurant’s inception in 2008. Famed for its sweet rice, which is cooked to perfection, the literal translation for hinone means “sound of fire” while mizunone translates to “sound of water.”

“We cook our rice in an old-fashioned pot and that’s all you hear — the fire and the water,” says operations manager Eiki Tamaki. “We have a rice warmer, and we set the rice on high heat and then low heat before letting it sit. We have to constantly keep an eye on it, or it’ll burn. The taste definitely stands out and the texture is very fluffy,” he adds.

Owned by Japanese giant Fujio Food Systems, Hinone Mizunone on South King Street is the first of its kind to open in the U.S., although there are a number of establishments planted throughout Japan.

“We specialize in traditional Japanese home-style cooking,” Tamaki says. “Our rice is even served in an ohitsu instead of your typical rice bowl.

“I think the consistency of the food here and our dedicated service has contributed to the restaurant’s success. We have a lot of customers who dine here many times a week.”

Head chef Teruo Aonuma blends the flavors of authentic Japanese cuisine with local culinary stylings that can’t go unnoticed. And with more than 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Aonuma has much to boast about.

“Hinone Mizunone is all about comfort food, so whether it’s teishoku sets, a la carte options, bentos, udon, curry, sushi or our daily specials. We cater to lunch and dinner crowds in search of a good meal,” Tamaki explains.

Prominent items on the menu include Maguro and Salmon Sushi Combo (Teishoku set $18), Shrimp Tempura (Teishoku set $13, side order $10) and Salmon Avocado Roll ($7.25), to name a few. And according to Tamaki, customers flock to the establishment just for a taste of Chicken “Ama-kara Age” ($11), featuring crispy fried chicken seasoned with grated daikon and topped with a sweet ginger sauce. This teishoku entree is unique to the restaurant, and it’s served with rice, miso soup, two side dishes and tsukemono, as are all teishoku entrees.

“Recently we also started serving Salmon Tempura with Vegetables (Teishoku set $13.95, side order $10.95) and Menchi Katsu (Teishoku set $12, side order $9), and both seem to be winning over our patrons,” Tamaki states, adding, “Menchi Katsu is a hamburger katsu and it’s very common in Japan, but I haven’t seen it available here in Hawaii. I think we’re one of the first restaurants to offer it, and it’s accompanied with a side of demi-glaze sauce.”

While continuity is a fundamental aspect here at Hinone Mizunone, Aonuma will make changes here and there to ensure the utmost quality in his edible masterpieces. In fact, the establishment now prides itself on its new katsu batter that ameliorates a variety dishes.

“The new batter is very soft and fluffy, and holds the taste of our katsu dishes. Customers really seem to enjoy the new batter, as the combination of the batter and the meat create a great harmony,” Tamaki says with a smile.

“We’re simple, but what we’re doing seems to be working. As we like to say, ‘maido ookini,’ which means ‘thank you always’ in Osaka dialect.”

Yes, simplicity is defined at Hinone Mizunone, and as Plato once said, “Beauty of style, harmony, grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.”

Now, what’s more harmonious than that?

Hinone Mizunone

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