Bottomless Bowls Of Nabe GoodnessCover Story Features
April 16, 2017
Story By: Maria Kanai | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
It’s hard to stop eating when your table at Ichiriki Nabe Japanese Restaurant is filled with a colorful array of fresh vegetables and premium meats, surrounding a centerpiece of a simmering hot pot full of savory, flavorful broths. It’s addictive — especially when you know it’s healthy as well. Dip, eat and repeat.
That’s exactly why, according to Ichiriki founder Riki Kobayashi, the nabe has become an all-you-can-eat experience at the newest Kaimuki location only — the fourth restaurant to join the Ichiriki family.
For the amount and quality of the food you receive, the allyou-can-eat (AYCE) meal is affordably priced at $18. During lunch hours, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can try as much as you want of Ichiriki’s pork, beef or chicken. There’s rice and your choice of broth, which includes the shoyu-based Ichiriki, spicy shoyu Pirikara, salt-based Shio, Yuzu Kosho, Ginger and much more.
Plus, you can try anything moving past you on the restaurant’s enticing, kaiten-style conveyor belt. There’s an assortment of delicious choices on the belt: chikuwa, or fish cake, cabbage, hakusai, choi sum, different kinds of mushrooms, tofu, kabocha, tsukune and so much more.
During dinner hours, the AYCE option with regular meats is $28, while the premium meat AYCE includes choices like USDA Choice beef and Kurobuta pork, and is priced at $35. “Our only request is that the entire table would order the all-you-can-eat option, instead of just one customer,” Kobayashi says.
Ichiriki Kaimuki, which opened just over a year ago on April 6, has other menu items you won’t find at the other locations, such as takeout curry and a brand-new Teishoku Set ($12) during lunch. For the latter, customers can choose one of these options: fried shrimp, gyudon beef, spicy ahi, tonkatsu, salmon katsu, pork kimchee, pork ginger or chicken karaage. The set comes with a small salad, miso soup, potato salad, rice and tsukemono (Japanese pickles).
There are three other locations around the island, including the original in Ala Moana/Piikoi, as well as branches in Kaneohe and Aiea. “When I first opened Ichiriki back in 2006, I didn’t see that there was any other nabe restaurants in Hawaii. In Japan, we eat nabe during the winter, but I thought, why don’t we have it all year long?” explains Kobayashi, who grew up in Yokohama, Japan. He says he moved to Hawaii because his family often visited the Islands when he was growing up.
While the hot-pot trend has picked up on Oahu since Ichiriki first opened, with multiple restaurants serving nabe around the island, what sets Ichiriki apart is its authenticity to Japanese flavors and ingredients. “We use special shoyu, mirin and other ingredients that are directly from Japan. We go for the true flavor,” says Kobayashi.
THIS WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY
Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant in Kaimuki has a happy hour menu from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. to closing, during which you can order all the broths on the menu for 50 percent off. There also are meat, appetizer and drink specials, such as chicken and pork loin for $4, ahi poke for $5.50, fried gyoza for $5, Asahi beer for $3 and much more.
Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant
1127 11th Ave., Kaimuki (and various other locations)
Open daily, 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m.; last call Sunday-Thursday at 10:30 p.m.; last call Friday-Saturday at 11:30 p.m.