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Order of the Day

A Thrilling Grilling Experience

By Kyle Galdeira Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
January 6, 2013

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As its name suggests, Don Day Yakiniku makes everyday the perfect time to enjoy fresh meat selections cooked to perfection, including the eatery’s signature pork belly.

The eatery offers an interactive cooking experience as diners grill fresh meat selections on the gas-powered cooking surfaces at each table. Additionally, customers may choose from a variety of hot pot dishes, as well as other entrees and side dishes prepared to order in the kitchen.

Unlike other yakiniku-style restaurants, where the smoke and aromas tend to linger in the air and leave diners smelling like the food they’ve eaten well after the meal is finished, Don Day Yakiniku features an open-air outdoor setting under large awnings and the shade of a big tree. Light breezes keep customers cool, while also wafting away the various scents.

Owner Charlene Miura opened the popular dining spot in August 2011, and utilizes the culinary skills of her mother— known affectionately as “Grandma Han”—who brings more than 30 years of restaurant experience to the kitchen.

“My Mom used to own a very good restaurant in Korea, and ever since we moved here, she always wanted to open a restaurant, but never had the right opportunity,” says Miura. “So actually, my Mom does all the behind the scenes work, she has her own secret, original recipes. She has her own way, and taught me everything about the food and how it should taste. I just run the business side and manage the restaurant.”

Don Day Yakiniku offers a wide range of fresh meat platters from which to choose, including Fresh Pork Belly ($23.95), Kalbi Fresh Beef Short Rib ($24.95), Prime Beef Sirloin Steak ($25.95), Pork Bulgogi ($19.95) and Chicken Bulgogi ($19.95).

The tender pork belly, one of the restaurant’s specialties, pairs perfectly with fermented kim chee, which is best served hot off the grill.

“My Mom believed that in ancient Korea, when they ate pork belly, you eat it along with cooked fermented kim chee to help you digest everything — it’s better for your health,” Miura explains. “The fresh pork belly is our specialty and we fly it in: it’s not frozen.”

Each meat or combo platter is accompanied by salad, rice and up to eight side dishes, which vary daily depending on what has been prepared fresh.

The Combo B platter ($79.95) is designed to feed four people, and includes a variety of popular meat and accompanying choices such as Fresh Kalbi or Marinated Beef Short Ribs, Beef Brisket, Beef Tongue, Fried Dumpling or Seafood Soybean Pot, Rice Wrap and Casserole.

Hot pot dishes also are available, and are brought to the table where diners proceed to prepare the flavorful combinations on the burner. For two or more diners, Spicy Sausage Hot Pot ($28.95) is an ideal option, and includes ham, Spam, sausage, Portuguese sausage, Korean sesame seed leaves and Korean mochi in a flavorful broth.

Diners also may select from a host of entree options, including Seafood and Vegetable Pancake ($16.95), a popular dish incorporating an egg and flour batter with pieces of shrimp, clams, squid and green onion along with an assortment of other vegetables. Spicy Stir-Fried Squid ($15.95) is a perfect choice for those longing to heat up their dining experience, and not to worry, the cool breezes passing through the dining area will make the heat easier to bear.

“This is an authentic Korean restaurant, and the one and only outdoors,” Miura says. “You can enjoy the outdoor environment that is our specialty. It’s family-style dining and a very enjoyable atmosphere.”

Don Day Yakiniku also offers a full selection of domestic and imported beers and wines, in addition to cocktail soju available in cucumber, lemon, yogurt and strawberry varieties.

Don Day Yakiniku

905 Keeaumoku St., Honolulu
951.1004 or 205.1004
Open daily, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
YakinikuDonDay.com