Stir Up the Flavor at Ichiriki
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Diners at Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant need not worry about being scolded for sharing food with fellow diners. In fact, to the delight of the many soup seekers who flock to the eatery, they’re encouraged to do so.
Ichiriki specializes in the interactive eating adventure known as hot pot cooking, and it’s based centrally in both Aiea and Honolulu. Nabe is a Japanese term for hot pot cooking, referring to all sorts of dishes cooked in “one pot.” According to East Asian cultural beliefs, eating from one pot allows diners to grow closer and form long-lasting relationships.
“The hot pot itself is meant for families,” says managing partner Masaki Sasada. “In Japan, it brings people together — sticking chop-sticks in and sharing the broth brings families, friends and guests closer. It’s a very family-friendly restaurant. We cater to everyone from kids to seniors, all ranges of ages.”
Mushroom Medley ($6.95) is a popular pupu offering, as the dish features a butter shoyu flavor that envelopes seasonal mushrooms that deliver both taste and freshness. Additionally, Ahi Katsu ($6.95) has drawn rave reviews from customers who come back for the fresh fish that is prepared daily and is never frozen.
Curry Nabe ($21.95) serves as one of Ichiriki’s flagship entrees, as the flavorful broth is served with a platter of fresh vegetables, chicken and pork. Like other main courses on the menu, diners also receive a bowl of rice and noodles — which also are perfect complements to the delicious broth.
“We have many different types of soups, ranging from shoyu to miso, and mild to spicy,” says Sasada. “Depending on what diners prefer, we can cater to that. Personally, I don’t really like things too spicy, so I prefer the miso. The best thing about our restaurant is that after you’re done eating the ingredients in the soup, you get to drink it afterward. Our soups are original, too — some of the flavors we feature, you can’t find them anywhere else on the island.”
For those looking to spice it up, Angry Goma ($22.95) has it all. “It’s really good if you like spicy food,” says Sasada of the sesame-flavored broth that also includes a platter full of beef, pork, seafood and vegetables — not to mention extra jalapeno or habanero peppers if one is so inclined to add them.
Another specialty available at Ichiriki is Kobe Beef Shabu Shabu ($28.95 for 5 ounces, $37.95 for 9 ounces). Diners are greeted by a hearty platter of the thinly sliced Rib-Eye steak that can be cooked to their liking in the hot pot, and dipped in the included ponzu or goma “sesame” sauces.
And after the meal, Sasada recommends Ujikintoki ($4.95), a green tea shave ice on a bed of mochi balls or ice cream and topped with azuki beans. The refreshing dessert provides a nice counter to the hot pot cooking, and blends flavor and sweetness without overpowering eaters’ taste buds.
Ichiriki also offers a host of special deals, including “Early Bird” specials available from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, as well as “Late Night” specials that are served from 9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
“You’ve got to come in and check it out for yourself,” Sasada says. “We focus a lot on customer service, and we treat you like family. We get a lot of positive comments about that. And, the food is excellent. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
510 Piikoi St. #102, Honolulu
Open daily, Lunch, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dinner Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m.-midnight
Kaonohi St. #C216, Aiea
Open daily, Lunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner Monday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday, 4-10 p.m.