Exploring The Flavors

Cover Story Features

July 2, 2017

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Osaka has long been considered the “food capital” of Japan, with its bustling city streets packed with shokudo (diners), ramen shops and street vendors cooking up takoyaki (octopus meatballs) and kushikatsu skewers for millions of inhabitants. In fact, the city’s motto is kuidaore, meaning “eat till you drop.” Hungry kamaaina eager to indulge in all Osaka has to offer are encouraged to participate in McCully Shopping Center’s annual A World of Cuisines celebration, the grand prize of which is an AirAsia trip for two from Honolulu to the delicious Japanese destination.

From now through the end of July, dig right in to the melting pot of flavors offered at the island-centric center, and while you’re at it, drop off an entry form at any vendor within the shopping center.

“Our goal is to bring people to McCully Shopping Center to experience all the different restaurants that we have, which cater to everyone’s tastes,” says director of marketing Terri Hansen-Shon. “The reason we chose Osaka, Japan for the grand-prize trip is because it is one of the best places for foodies, so we wanted someone to experience a wide range of cuisines, just like what we have at McCully.”

Opened nearly 31 years ago, the shopping center houses a diverse array of retail and service providers, ranging from clothing and beauty shops to insurance branches. The main draw of the center, however, is its collection of more than 10 eateries, which include flagship restaurant Fook Yuen Chinese Seafood Restaurant, Regal Diner, Hot Pot Heaven, Thai Lao Restaurant and Coffee Or Tea?, just to name a few.

In honor of A World of Cuisines’ prize trip to Osaka, Dining Out is getting patrons in the mood for Japanese food with a host of flavors that represent The Land of the Rising Sun:

BOZU

Bozu Japanese Restaurant is located on the second floor of McCully Shopping Center, and it’s the perfect place to get your taste buds revved up for a Japanese dining adventure.

Bozu’s Hokkaido Octopus Carpaccio ($18.50)

Owner and chef Katsuhiro Hoshi is from Ibaraki prefecture in Japan, bordering Tokyo, but he’s shared his culinary skills with islanders for the past 12 years. After working locally at high-ranking Japanese restaurants like Nobu Waikiki and Imanas Tei, Hoshi broke out with his own eatery a year ago, and a mix of locals and tourists have been coming back for his mix of traditional and fusion Japanese dishes ever since.

Satisfy your sushi cravings with Lobster Tempura Roll ($19.50), or start your next dinner off with something from the specials menu, such as Hokkaido Octopus Carpaccio ($18.50). The light yet flavorful pupu pairs seared seafood with hints of pickled vegetables and olive oil to play off the yuzu- and lemon-filled citrus sauce.

Bozu’s Lobster Tempura Roll ($19.50)

Though the term bozu means “rascal” in Japanese, there’s nothing kolohe about this menu — it’s all top-notch.

Osaka Teppanyaki Kawano

With A World of Cuisine’s grand prize trip sending two lucky winners to Osaka, Japan, there’s no better way to get a taste for the city’s cuisine than heading to Osaka Teppanyaki Kawano at McCully Shopping Center.

Okonomiyaki with pork ($9.50) from Osaka Teppanyaki Kawano

The restaurant is named for the husband-and-wife duo who own it and the place they come from. Akira Kawano and wife Akane serve up a slew of specialties from their hometown, including perhaps the most famous dish in Osaka: okonomiyaki. The savory shredded-cabbage pancakes have to be carefully grilled to get the flavor and texture just right. They’re typically smothered in a delectable sweet sauce as well as a drizzle of mayo, bonito flakes and seaweed speckles.

Try the Kawano’s Okonomiyaki, prepared with irresistible toppings like crispy pork ($9.50).

Sukiyaki ($10) from Osaka Teppanyaki Kawano

Osaka Teppanyaki also offers sashimi, deep-fried pupus, yakisoba and teppanyaki, not to mention classic Sukiyaki ($10) — served sizzling with bean curd, sliced beef and veggies cooked in shoyu, sugar and sake. The menu, often written with Japanese translations, also lists shochu, umesu, sake and other libations for those thirsty adult diners.

And if you happen to be the lucky winners of the trip to Osaka, Akane says, “The food is cheap and the people are nice, so I recommend walking around and enjoying the Osaka atmosphere.”

Curry House

One of the most popular dishes to come out of Japan is its golden, flavorful curry, and Curry House CoCo Ichibanya stands out as a foodie-favorite place to get it.

The Japan-based chain of curry eateries came to Hawaii in 1994, and although it has grown to include many locations throughout Oahu, the McCully Shopping Center branch remains among the most popular.

Curry House’s Fried Chicken and Gyoza ($9.60)

“This has actually been our most busy location in the last year or so,” confirms Curry House manager Kevin Wakisaka.

Curry House manager Kevin Wakisaka

As for the bold, spicy beef-based curry (mild also available) that is incorporated into the whole menu at Curry House, Wakisaka recommends trying it with Chicken Cutlet and Cheese ($9.35). “That’s our best-seller,” he says of the dish, which highlights crispy strips of chicken and mild cheddar.

Fried Chicken and Gyoza ($9.60) also aims to please, and like the majority of the eatery’s selections, it comes with fluffy white rice and a huge ladling of the curry itself.

Speaking to the authenticity of Curry House’s signature sauce, Wakisaka adds that it is made in Japan and brought to Hawaii, making for a traditional and consistent bite each time.

McCully Shopping Center

1960 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu
Mccullysc.com

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