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Inside Feature

Teishoku, Rice & Everything Nice

By Nicole Kato Photos By Nathalie Walker
August 12, 2012

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Great Japanese food at an affordable price is available every day of the week at home-style restaurant Hinone Mizunone, and unlike regular Japanese restaurants, this establishment doesn’t close during the precious hours between lunch and dinner. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from 5 to 9 p.m., the dinner menu becomes available.

And what, you may ask, makes Hinone Mizunone so different from all other restaurants of its kind? The rice.

The restaurant uses the same California rice like everybody else, but it’s cooked in a special pot — kamadaki gohan style, which is a traditional way of cooking rice.

“Before you walk in there’s a window to the left and you can see us cooking the rice,” says operations manager Eiki Tamaki. “We have a rice warmer, but we don’t have a rice cooker. We have to time it ourselves to get the rice exactly how we want it, and we have to constantly watch it so it doesn’t burn.”

And the Hinoki wood makes a big different in the taste. “This is the way they used to cook the rice all the time before, and that’s what we’re known for,” Tamaki adds.

“When you taste it, you can taste more of the sweetness,” he says. “And even when they have leftovers, a lot of our customers take it home because they microwave it and it still tastes the same.”

According to Tamaki, Hinone Mizunone makes anywhere from 15 to 20 orders of rice at a time. “We want our customers to eat fresh-cooked rice all the time, and we just keep making the rice.”

And excellent rice, coupled with tasty entrees, makes for one delicious teishoku meal. Teishoku sets are served with rice, miso soup, two side dishes and pickles.

Broiled Salmon ($10) is delivered fresh every other day and cut at the restaurant. “It’s regular broiled salmon, but this cut is taken from the salmon we take sashimi from, so it’s pretty fatty and it’s good,” Tamaki says.

Two types of saba are available at Hinone Mizunone: Broiled Saba ($8.50) and Saba Nitsuke ($8.50). The sauce for the Saba Nitsuke is shoyu-based. “It’s rare to find Nitsuke Saba in Hawaii,” Tamaki says. “Many restaurants have miso saba, but not shoyu-based saba. Our restaurant in Japan serves the shoyu-based saba, so we serve it here, too.”

Just like the saba, there are two types of pork tonkatsu. There’s one with homemade sauce similar to regular tonkatsu sauce but with wonderful additions of mayonnaise and a bit of spicy mustard. Tonkatsu with Homemade Sauce and Tonkatsu with Oroshi-Ponzu are both priced at $10.50, so you can take your pick. Oroshi ponzu sauce is a mixture of soy sauce, citrus juices, ground daikon radish and a little oil.

And yes, the Japanese have their own version of fried chicken — Karaage Chicken, which costs $9.50 at Hinone Mizunone, and offers the perfect blend of flavor and texture. Customers can rest assured the chicken is fresh all the time, never frozen.

Curry and udon also are available at the eatery, and both are made with a beef base, which means excellent flavor! You can choose from local favorites such as Chicken Katsu Curry ($9.50) and Deluxe Udon ($9.50). Or, if you want the best of both worlds, there also is a Deluxe Udon & Curry Set ($15.50).

As the old Chinese proverb goes, “Talk doesn’t cook rice.” And at Hinone Mizunone, the employees work hard to ensure customers have the best meal (and best rice).

Hinone Mizunone

1345 S. King St., Honolulu
942.4848
Open daily, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.