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Pupu Picks
Pupu Picks

Ichiriki Hits the Spot With Its Appetizers

By Steve Murray Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
November 11, 2012

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The volunteer food reviewers on Yelp and Urbanspoon can’t seem to get enough of Ichiriki. To borrow a post, the Japanese nabe restaurant near Ala Moana (and Aiea) has; Tasty food, Great Price(s), (is) Fun and Interactive food making, Nice and clean, Family-style, (and) Great Service. That pretty much sums it up.

Starting off with a fresh Tofu Salad ($4.95) is a good way to set the stage for either one of the restaurant’s hot pots, and its collection appetizers. You really can’t go wrong with either. The salad features red leaf lettuce, cherry tomatoes and soft tofu, and is topped with croutons, nori and a creamy sesame dressing. Just as you would expect, the dish is light, flavorful and packed with natural flavors.

Characterized as a “perfect combination” of pork and kim chee by photographer Lawrence Tabudlo, Pork Kim Chee ($9.95) is pickled without being too sour, and spicy without being freakishly hot. There is a slow burn common with such an appetizer, but it’s nothing you can’t handle and a wipe across the forehead is all it takes to maintain composure. The textural mix is created by pan-searing the pork until its crispy, but still juicy, and combining it with the fresh snap of the kim chee. Now for the fish.

Ahi Poke ($5.95) can be found almost anywhere, but the kim chee marinade Ichiriki uses to season the tender chunks of fish is unique and quite tasty. And while the kim chee sauce may give the appearance of excessive heat, especially for those of us who are heat wimps, have no fear, the coating is a flavor enhancer that is well balanced with the buttery ahi.

Saving the best for last, Ahi Katsu ($6.95) is the same daily fresh ahi used in the poke, but deliciously different. Ahi Katsu is wrapped in a shiso leaf, then panko-coated and deep-fried served with a side of tonkastu sauce. The star in this simple collection is the shiso, which adds a mint flavor that works perfectly with the ahi. Crunchy on the outside, soft and tender inside, I’ll be back for more.

Ichiriki

510 Piikoi St., Honolulu
589.2299
Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight
Reservations are recommended.