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‘Whimsical’ eatery offers fresh bite

A La Carte

October 22, 2017

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Chicken Paitan Shoyu Ramen ($15)

Of all the new restaurants that have opened their doors in Honolulu this year, Tsukada Nojo might be one of the most whimsically intriguing.

After all, what other restaurant serves soup fixings in a charming gardener’s box, with tiny shovels to scoop up ingredients? Or taco shells made of giant radish discs?

Or sweetly tempting polar bears sculpted of shave ice?

Bijin Nabe ($40, serves two to three people)

Located on Kalakaua Avenue across from Century Center, Tsukada Nojo opened in March to a buzz of excitement that continues to grow. The cornerstone of its eclectic menu, with many ingredients sourced locally, is Bijin Nabe ($40, serves two to three people).

“It’s our signature dish,” says general manager Ed Mailoa. “The broth is chicken-based, cooked for about eight hours, then chilled. When it becomes cold, it gels.”

Strawberry Shave Ice Bear ($9)

At the table, the gelled soup begins to melt over the flame on the tabletop burner. This indicates that it’s time to think about the little gardener’s box, stuffed with crisply fresh vegetables and other ingredients. Choose from selections such as tsukune (ground chicken meatballs), tofu, enoki mushrooms, watermelon radish, zucchini, romaine lettuce, Chinese cabbage, watercress and aburaage (fried tofu).

Savory and hearty, Chicken Paitan Shoyu Ramen ($15), which also is made with slow-cooked broth, includes a dashi-marinated egg, red onion, fried gobo (burdock root), green onion and chives, “and a whole chicken leg on top of ramen noodles,” Mailoa adds.

The eatery gets weekly shipments from Punachicks Farm on the Big Island, and sources noodles locally from Sun Noodle, Mailoa says.

For dessert, the adorable Strawberry Shave Ice Bear ($9) is highly recommended. With mixed fruits, mochi, black beans, vanilla ice cream and strawberry puree, it’s fun, refreshing and big enough to share.

One more tip: Free parking is in front of Tsukada Nojo, and also in the back, with access on Kalauokalani Way.

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