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Flowering Korean Faves

By Yu Shing Ting Photos By Nathalie Walker
November 4, 2012

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If you didn’t already know, Korean Hibiscus BBQ has reopened at Kaimuki Shopping Center (located on the lower level, to the right of Times Super Market) offering the same tasty menu many of its regular customers dubbed their “Korean comfort food.”

The popular Korean food takeout restaurant was originally located in Aina Haina Shopping Center, where it opened in 1997.

After their lease was not renewed in 2010, owners Raymond and Shirley Kodani decided to take a break and spend more time with their three grandchildren, including a newborn granddaughter.

Then, they were given an opportunity to open in Kaimuki and decided it was time to be back in business. Doors opened in January 2012, and word seems to have gotten around pretty quickly with a steady crowd finding their way to the little restaurant hidden on the lower level of the shopping center.

Named after South Korea’s national flower, the rose of Sharon or mugunghwa in Korean (a species of Hibiscus), Korean Hibiscus BBQ features fresh, mildly-seasoned Korean-style vegetables.

Entrees such as kalbi, bulgogi and barbecue chicken are marinated with Shirley’s family recipe. Born and raised in Korea, Shirley (aka grandma) grew up eating many of the foods listed on the menu. However, there also are some local favorites, such as homemade hamburger steak, garlic chicken, chicken katsu and macaroni salad made with Best Foods mayonnaise.

“One thing that makes us different is the seasoning, it’s very light,” says Raymond. “Also, we try to maintain fresh vegetable offerings, our soups are freshly made and we serve hapa-rice (a mix of white rice and brown rice). As for the spicyness of our food, it’s not as spicy as the food in Korea, but for those who like it more spicy, it’s easy to add to it.” Popular menu items include Bi Bim Bap ($8.50) consisting of seasoned rice topped with Korean-style vegetables, barbecue beef (or barbecue chicken), a fried egg and Korean hot sauce; Korean Hibiscus Special Plate ($11.50) with kal bi, barbecue beef and barbecue chicken; and Jun Combo Plate ($11.50), which has meat jun, fish jun and zucchini jun. Two-Combo Plate ($10.75) also is a best-seller allowing customers to create their own plate by choosing two items from a menu of barbecue beef, barbecue chicken, spicy barbecue chicken, garlic chicken, chicken katsu, meat jun, fish jun, zucchini jun, fried man doo and steamed man doo. Vegetarian plates also are available, as well as a la carte, family packs, party pans and catering. Whether for lunch or dinner, customers, both old-timers and new, are welcoming Korean Hibiscus BBQ to its new home in Kaimuki.

Korean Hibiscus BBQ

Kaimuki Shopping Center Lower Level
3221 Waialae Ave.
734.8232
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.