Nabe: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Columns Ono, You Know

May 26, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Rachel Breit

What a week! I’ve been under the weather, and this time I’ve got it bad. There must be some sort of virus going around, because I’ve caught it full-force. You name it, I’ve got it — severe body aches, a fever, a runny nose that requires a box of tissues a day, an irritating cough and a throat that is so painfully raw. How pleasant, right?

Well, I’ve complained enough. It’s no fun being sick, especially when my workouts have been put on hiatus (major bummer), but life goes on! There’s work to be done and good food to eat!

On the bright side though, the best way to get better is with nabe, better known as soul food, in my opinion.

Nabemono is a Japanese dining concept that refers to a variety of hot-pot or one-pot dishes. The dish is cooked atop portable stoves at the table where diners take the reins and cook a myriad of ingredients, from seafood to vegetables and meat, in a pot filled to the brim with a mouthwatering broth.

So, this week, nabe is just what the doctor ordered! The soup soothes my throat and the steam clears my sinuses. Here at the following Ono, You Know establishments, I’ve come alive once again, all thanks to their delicious nabe!

New Eagle Cafe

When comfort food is the only cure, New Eagle Cafe is the place to be. This local-style diner hits the spot with its classic favorites of oxtail soup, prime rib and more. And while these items are tried-and-true, this Nimitz eatery stirs up the pot with its one-of-a-kind Lobster Nabe. Priced at $27.95, patrons are presented with a whole Maine lobster served with tofu and vegetables in a savory broth, comprised of a shoyu base infused with seaweed.

“Won bok, button mushrooms, tofu and the nabe broth are all very good,” says restaurant cook Gary Taguiran. “However, you don’t see many nabe offerings with a 1 pound lobster!”

As Taguiran presented me with Lobster Nabe, I was beyond impressed. Once you pick the meaty morsels out of its shell and the chunks of lobster meat submerge in the broth, the taste is unbelievably ono — the pieces of lobster soak up all the flavors of the broth.

Lobster Nabe comes complete with rice, miso soup, tsukemono, tossed salad and a beverage of your choice.

Bite after bite, slurp after slurp, I started to feel better in no time! Trust me, your appetite will definitely soar to new heights at New Eagle Cafe, so flock on over!

New Eagle Cafe
1130 N. Nimitz Hwy., Ste. A-100
545-2233

Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant

The home of all things nabe is none other than Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant, where robust flavors and quality fresh ingredients stand in the forefront. Co-founders Issei Kazama and Riki Kobayashi opened the doors to Ichiriki’s original location on Piikoi Street in 2006, and to this day, the Piikoi store is my goto pick when I’m craving boiling pots of nabe or Japanese hot pot.

According to Kazama, nabe is generally consumed in Japan during the cold winter months to provide warmth. Yet, a thought entered Kazama’s mind: “Why not serve nabe all year long in Hawaii?” That simple inquiry broke the stereotype of nabe solely being a winter dish.

With a slew of nabe selections to choose from, it’s hard to decide on what to order. Although, when I’m congested, Angry Goma Nabe ($23.95) is the cure-all.

As the restaurant’s spiciest nabe, hints of jalapeno, habanero peppers and a bit of sesame swim in the broth. It’s time to clear the sinuses! Add your choice of meat (it’s usually paired with pork, but I prefer ribeye) and the assortment of vegetables, salmon, shrimp, chicken and homemade meatballs to the mix and what you get is a filling feast with fantastic flavor and a zestful kick.

“Angry Goma Nabe has been on our secret menu for about a year now, with almost a cult following. We thought it would be a good time to add it to the regular menu, since so many people have been asking for a spicier nabe,” Kazama states.

Mushroom Nabe ($24.95), with a grand assortment of seasonal mushrooms, along with Seafood Nabe ($28.95), a shoyu-based nabe served with Madagascar shrimp, calamari and scallops, are my other Ichiriki favorites. The list goes on, but to make it easy for any Ichiriki first-timer, know that you can’t go wrong here. Everything is delicious!

The interactive dining experience of cooking nabemono never gets old. Fresh ingredients, an amazing broth and a portable stove at your table are all you need. And just when you think you’ve filled up on everything in your hot pot, think again. Ramen or udon is brought to the table at the end of your meal to enjoy with every last drop of soup!

Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant
510 Piikoi St. #102
589-2299

Japanese Restaurant Aki

For a relaxed and contemporary dining adventure, Japanese Restaurant Aki on Makaloa Street (on the mauka side of the block between Ala Moana Center and Walmart) makes its patrons feel like royalty with premier customer service and top-notch Japanese fare.

Join the dinner crowd and request the renowned Tan Tan Nabe ($18 for one order, minimum of two orders required).

Feeling not so hot? Well, Tan Tan Nabe will bring you back to life, as this hot pot dish features a thick, sweet and spicy tan tan broth composed of sesame oil and a blend of secret spices. Then, tender strips of pork belly and ground pork, along with king, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, bean sprouts, tofu and cabbage are stirred into the broth for added flair.

According to manager Aki Hirose, Japanese Restaurant Aki is the only place to obtain your tan tan nabe fix.

“Nabe is quite popular nowadays, so we were inspired to present this dish to our customers,” he says.

For an additional price, patrons are offered a choice of rice ($3) or ramen ($4) to slurp up with the leftover nabe broth.

Japanese Restaurant Aki
1427 Makaloa St.
955-8528