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Nothing Beats a Pot of Nabe

Columns Foodie Fare

December 15, 2013

Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

With chilly winter days now upon us, what could be better than getting cozy with a big hot pot of Japanese comfort food?

Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant specializes in nabe, which co-owner Issei Kazama describes as Japanese comfort food. Nabe are-flavored broths that also encompass shabu shabu and sukiyaki.

“Nabe is good and healthy, and it just seems to bring people together,” he says.

“It is the kind of food that you have with your family around the dinner table,” continues Kazama. “It’s something that you eat when you gather with a bunch of people, kind of like a turkey at Thanksgiving.”

For starters, Kazama recommends the Mushroom Medley appetizer ($6.95), which features seasonal mushrooms. The mushrooms change seasonally; currently making up the medley are shiitake, enoki, shimeji and eryngii mushrooms.

“We take the mushrooms and saute them with some butter,” he says.

Another appetizer option is Pork Kimchee ($9.95), which Kazama says is one of his personal favorite dishes.

If it’s your first time at Ichiriki, a good way to dive into the menu is with a great happy hour deal in Kobe Beef Shabu Shabu ($16.95), which features 5 ounces of Kobe beef and a platter of vegetables that includes enoki mushroom, tofu and shiitake mushrooms, as well as three dipping sauces.

“That is a really good deal for Kobe beef,” he says, adding that the special will continue at least through the end of the year.

One of Ichiriki’s most popular items is Angry Goma Nabe ($23.95), a spicy selection that features 15 ingredients including pork, homemade chicken meatball, seafood, sausages and a platter of vegetables such as cabbage, enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and tofu.

“This is for the crazy people who like to burn their tongues. It is very, very spicy!” he says. “A lot of people really love it.”

To wrap things up, try Green Tea Shave Ice or Ujikintoki ($4.95), which presents azuki bean paste and mochi balls.

“You get the bitterness of the green tea and the sweetness of the azuki bean. With the nice coldness from the ice, it is a nice ending to a hot meal,” Kazama says.

For more updates and online-only specials, follow Ichiriki on Instagram and find them on Facebook.

On the Side

Co-owner Issei Kazama and his business partner opened Ichiriki in 2006 on Piikoi Street with a mission to bring nabe to the Islands.

“We had been working for another restaurant chain, and we learned a lot, so we figured that we would try and do it ourselves,” he says. “We wanted to bring nabe to Hawaii because nobody was really serving it out here.

“We wanted to bring that type of family dining to Hawaii.”

Their hunch that nabe would be popular here proved to be true. The downtown eatery was soon followed by a second location in Aiea. And more recently, the owners also opened a third location in Kaneohe.

At Ichiriki, you also won’t get anything less than top-notch service. A passion for quality service is one thing that has kept Kazama in the restaurant industry.

“Seeing the smile that a server can bring to a customer just kind of changed my life,” he says.

Speaking of change, Ichiriki is set to unveil some new menu items in January, so stay tuned.

Contact Christina O’Connor at diningout@staradvertiser.com

Ichiriki

PIIKOI
510 Piikoi St., Honolulu
589-2299
Lunch: daily, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Dinner: Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m.-midnight

AIEA
98-150 Kaonohi St., Aiea
484-0737
Lunch: daily, 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.

KANEOHE
46-047 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaneohe
236-2299
Lunch: daily 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Dinner: Monday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 pm.-midnight; Sunday, 4-10 pm

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