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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Japanese Restaurant Aki

Restaurant Insider

April 21, 2019

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

Hall Manager Grace Kingsley with yakitori, Anne Lee with 5 Kinds of Sushi and Chef Ken Ichiro behind the grill

ANNE LEE Speaks with operations manager GRACE KINGSLEY

Specializing in traditional Japanese cuisine, Japanese Restaurant Aki has garnered a loyal following of diners from all cultures who revel in the delicious authenticity of its meals.

Opened in 2014, the restaurant’s first location originally claimed Makaloa Street near Ala Moana Center home until moving to its current location in the bustling Waialae district.

Of special mention are the eatery’s happy hour offerings that are great deals, providing even greater taste. Operations manager Grace Kingsley takes us deep into the specials and what makes them some of the best Japanese cuisine to get in Hawaii. Plus, the dining area is an extremely charming setup, which allows customers to feel as if they are relaxing in The Land of the Rising Sun itself, without leaving the comforts of home in Hawaii.

Happy Hour menu items: 5 Kinds of Sushi ($12.50, chef’s choice), Miso Creamcheese ($4.50), Agedashi Tofu ($6.50), 3 Kinds of Yakitori ($5.50, chef’s choice) and Tataki Cucumber ($3.50).

AL: What does Japanese Restaurant Aki bring to the Hawaii food scene? GK: We offer traditional Japanese options prepared by our chef who is from and trained in Japan, and our fish is flown directly from Haneda Airport the same day as it is caught.

Furthermore, we offer a very popular happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Diners can try our full size serving of our popular Agedashi Tofu on the happy hour menu. Also, our popular Daily Teishoku set is just $10 at this time. Additionally, we have Aki’s special assortment where everything is hand-picked by the chef. 5 Kinds of Sushi is offered at $12.50. There are a variety of cold dishes on the menu, like our Miso Creamcheese, which is miso-flavored cream cheese slices served with nori to wrap it in — it’s very delicious.

AL: What is the restaurant’s most popular dish?

GK: The Agedashi Tofu is the most popular dish. It is tofu, fried with hashi. Our chef makes this in his own unique way that tastes different from anywhere else.

Our yakitori and sashimi are very popular, too. Guests can also sample these on our happy hour menu. Our lunch sets, we have over 10 different sets and we change the lunch sets every month — from miso butterfish to ginger pork, we offer a variety of delicious options.

AL: What would you say is one of the most special aspects of Restaurant Aki? GK: Once you step into our restaurant you feel like you are in Japan, from the cuisine to the staff. Our main chef Shoichi Kosaka has over 20 years of experience working in Japan and being trained in Japan. Also, our owner is originally from Japan, but he now makes Hawaii his home and wants to give local diners a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine.

AL: Lastly, what is your favorite part of your job?

GK: To see pleased customers and for them to enjoy their dining experience.

Agedashi Tofu

(deep fried tofu in tsuyu broth)

Cook time: 10 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: Four

Ingredients

• 1 box tofu
• Potato starch
• Oil
• 1 cup dashi stock
• 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
• 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping

• Ginger
• Daikon
• Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

Instructions

1. Remove the excess water from the tofu by wrapping it in two to three layers of paper towels and placing a plate on top. Allow the tofu to drain for 10 minutes.

2. Peel and grate the daikon and gently squeeze the water out. Cut the green onion into thin slices.

3. Put dashi, soy sauce and mirin in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and set aside.

4. Remove the tofu from the paper towels and cut it into eight pieces.

5. Heat the oil to 350F in a deep fryer or medium saucepan. Coat the tofu with potato starch and deep fry until light brown and crispy.

6. Remove the tofu and drain excess oil on a plate lined with paper towels or wire rack.

7. To serve, place the tofu in a serving bowl and gently pour the sauce without wetting the tofu. Garnish with grated daikon, green onion, katsuobushi and shichimi togarashi.

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