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When I first moved to Hawaii back in 2006, I wasn’t too hip with the local lingo (I still have nightmares of confusing the Hawaiian saying for brother with female underwear, ya’ll). I’m also painfully clear in my recollection of the very first time I was invited via email to go with some new friends for nabe.
Hailing from the South, the only “nabe” in my vocabulary was the nickname I used for my buddy who lived next door (I called him “nabe” (pronounced ‘nay-b’) for short, when trying to be cool and impress my older sister and her friends — you know, my neighbor peeps).
So with this understanding, you can imagine my confusion when I read my friends’ invitation to “pick up some hot nabe.” Doubtful, but picturing some handsome neighborhood hunk they wanted to introduce me to, I busted out the curlers, the makeup and yes, even the sky-high heels. Needless to say, when my friends picked me up (casually clad in their board shorts and bikini tops), I soon realized the “nabe” I had read about, pronounced “nahbay,” was no handsome next-door hottie, but rather a one-pot creation of the culinary kind.
It’s been years since that silly snafu, but that is one story that will forever live in infamy around my inner circle! And while that first encounter with nabe is one I’d soon like to forget, a hot pot experience I am always up for is the delicious dining offered at Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant.
A favorite here is the Vegetarian Mushroom Chanko Nabe ($19.95), featuring fresh vegetables and an assortment of mushrooms, including enoki, shimeji, shiitake and eryngi, served steaming hot in Ichiriki’s signature broth — a shoyu based broth with a deep and clean taste that builds in boldness and richness as it cooks. Also recommended is the Tofu Salad ($4.95), an appealing appetizer made with tasty tofu alongside mixed greens and sesame dressing.
With dishes like these, you can tell co-founder Issei Kazama and staff take great pride in their work. “The most rewarding thing is seeing a customer smile because of something we helped do. I love it when kids ask their parents ‘When can we come back?’ It’s the most awesome feeling ever,” describes Kazama.
Contact Andy Beth Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant
510 Piikoi St. #102 (and other locations)
Lunch: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily
Dinner: Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-midnight