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Healthy Helpings at Hanaki
Inside Feature

Hanaki Hits the Spot

Story By Carol Chang
June 24 - 30, 2012

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It’s easy, it’s healthy and you’ll feel great afterwards. That’s another way of saying you should check out the shabushabu at Hanaki Restaurant.

It’s just a short, pleasant drive into Manoa Valley, and there you’ll find Hanaki where it’s been for years at the back of Manoa Marketplace. But inside, the owners and management have committed to a healthier way for families and friends to enjoy a meal together. For three years now, the restaurant has stayed on the lean and green side with meals self-cooked in a communal soup at each table, but it doesn’t skimp on the ingredients.

“It’s healthy but filling, deceptively filling,” admits Mark Mitsuyoshi, who has worked here for 12 years and remains slim. “Plus, you have the flavor from the soup in the food, and you can choose a different broth and a different meat each time, so it never gets old.”

Different choices, yes indeed. Choice No. 1 would be, which soup base do you want to start with? There’s konbu, miso, curry, seafood, spicy, beef and sukiyaki, all priced at $5, and healthy herb soup for $9. Then the restaurant offers about 35 types of meat or fish to cook tableside in your selected broth and 40 kinds of vegetables (almost all Hawaii-grown) — all packaged fresh in colorful bowls on chilled shelves, with prices ranging from $2.50 to $4.50, except for crab and butterfish. Several dipping sauces and flavored garnishes such as ginger and green onions complete the array of items. Rice and hot tea cost $1.50 each.

Among the intriguing selections: six kinds of mushrooms, stuffed shiitake, squid balls, udon, butterfish bones, lamb, Redondo’s arabiki hot dogs, salmon, prime rib, instant ramen, lobster balls, steamed cabbage rolls, ika fishcake, sponge tofu (“fills with flavor”).

While a few locals still come in thinking it’s a buffet operation, Mitsuyoshi says the restaurant has gained many converts from that group, and some have become regular fans of shabushabu. One gentleman fully embraced the concept, he recalls. “He grabbed everything and had fun creating a giant miso ramen!”

For adults who get possessive about their favorite morsel as it simmers and floats around in the electric pot, Mitsuyoshi suggests they put it on a skewer to “claim” it, or cradle it in a slotted spoon, both of which are available nearby.

Children also jump into the soup, so to speak, without even realizing they are consuming green things that are good for them. “The kids get a fully balanced meal, and it’s kind of fun for them to choose an item and cook it themselves,” Mitsuyoshi says. “Of course, some of them also head straight for the hot dog bowls and the shave ice.”

Shave ice? Yes, every shabushabu customer can help themselves to as much shave ice as they want — with several flavor choices, of course — at no extra charge. A good way to top a warm meal. Still other tempting desserts can be had for $1.50 each. Sweet treats on display recently were Mocha Chino Deelite with 100 percent Kona coffee, chocolate and an Oreo crust; Banana Crunch with peanut butter, chocolate macadamia nuts and Oreo crust; Mauna Kea Deelite with haupia, fudge, coconut, mac nuts, Dutch chocolate and Oreo crust; Melona ice cream bars; and the newest dessert, Green Tea pie with azuki beans, vanilla and honey graham crust.

Another choice: You can choose not to cook your own.

Hanaki offers ample ramen bowls of all kinds from its own kitchen ($11.95 or $12.95), as well as donburi bowls ($11.95) and combination plates of two ($9.95) or three entrees ($12.95) served with rice and miso soup. The choices listed here also can come as side orders of $4.50 each: shrimp tempura, fried fish katsu, chicken kara age, tako yaki, homemade gau gee, deep-fried oysters, teriyaki chicken, vegetable tempura, grilled butterfish bones, teriyaki tofu and misoyaki butterfish.

Now for one final lesson on this culinary tour. The term shabu-shabu apparently was inspired by the swish-swish sound of cooking the meat in the pot. The name Hanaki means “precious flower.” So far, they have not put flowers on the menu — but some blossoms are edible, and they might taste great floating in a sukiyaki soup base and dipped in the house secret sauce.

Hanaki Restaurant is open from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m. every day but Tuesday at 2756 Woodlawn Drive. For reservations or catering information, call 988.1551.

Hanaki Restaurant

  • Where
    • Manoa Marketplace
    • 2756 Woodlawn Drive
    • Honolulu, HI 96822
  • Call
    • (808) 988-1551
  • Hours
    • 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    • 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday – Monday
    • Closed on Tuesdays
  • Notes
    • Free parking available.