Kicking Off the New Year With Traditional, Cultural Cuisine

Columns Ono, You Know

January 1, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Happy New Year, Ono readers! Now that 2011 has officially come to a close, it’s time for a new lease on life — and your appetite. Last year was grand, and I’m quite optimistic as to what this new year will bring — hopefully it will be full of promise and lots and lots of delicious food! A new year is like a clean slate, or a fresh palette if you will, where you have every opportunity to start anew and create your own masterpiece in all aspects of life.

So, this week, let’s raise our glass and toast to a fabulous new year, while paying tribute to a few tasty and traditional New Year’s entrees from some of the best Ono, You Know establishments in town — it’s only fitting that we kick off 2012 with classic New Year’s delights!

Here’s to an onolicious year, everyone! Thank you for all your continued support this past year, and keep reading and keep eating — there are many wonderful things in store!

Hinone Mizunone

  • The editor starts off the new year with a bite of Hinone Mizunone's delicious Ozoni ($8.75).
  • Hinone Mizunone's Ozoni ($8.75)
  • Server Brianna Racoma with Hinone Mizunone's mouth-watering Ozoni.
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Hinone Mizunone rings in the new year in style with its authentic Japanese cuisine, and there’s no better time for operations manager Eiki Tamaki to showcase the restaurant’s traditional ozoni soup.

“It’s always been the Japanese custom during the new year to serve ozoni soup,” Tamaki says. “The soup symbolizes long life.”

The South King Street eatery will offer ozoni to its patrons this week only (starting tomorrow) for $8.75. Head chef Teruo Aonuma prepares this hearty dish with much precision, making sure each and every ingredient exudes its natural flavor in the broth.

“We use a dashi soup base for the ozoni, and then we add a variety of ingredients, including bamboo shoots, fern, daikon, carrots, pieces of mochi, and tender pieces of chicken thigh,” Tamaki explains.

This Japanese New Year meal also comes complete with kuromame (black soy beans), tsukemono and two slices of egg omelette.

“Ozoni is an important part of many family traditions, so we’re making it easier on folks by having it available at our restaurant.”

Hinone Mizunone
1345 S. King St.
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Choi’s Garden

  • Choi's Garden Rice Cake Soup ($9.98)
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As a standout for Korean food lovers, Choi’s Garden, conveniently located on Rycroft Street, never fails to satisfy diners with its remarkable cuisine that puts some spice into the lives of many. So, why not start off 2012 with a punch of zestful flavor? Owner Hyosook Choi opened the doors to the renowned establishment in 2000, and caters to those who yearn for home-style Korean cuisine, such as Bi Bim Bap, Seafood Pancake, Stone Pot Rice Dishes and other savory specials that are just as nutritious as they are delicious.

“Every year on Jan. 1 we offer a free bowl of Rice Cake Soup (Duk Kook) to our customers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” says hostess Temi Chang. “It’s kind of a way for us to say thank you to our loyal patrons for their support.

“Rice Cake Soup is part of a New Year’s tradition for Koreans,” she adds. “It’s believed that when you drink the soup, you add one year to your life, and it’s also supposed to bring you good luck and good health.”

This refreshing entree features a bowl of beef broth filled to the brim with tasty morsels of beef, slices of egg and dried nori. Although always a fan of Korean cuisine, I had never set my taste buds on this exotic dish until now. With the first spoonful, the rice cake soup was very refreshing, and believe me, you’ll want to enjoy it to the very last drop.

“The soup isn’t spicy at all, so it’s served with kim chee on the side for an added spice,” Chang says.

So, take advantage of this once a year deal at Choi’s Garden; however, if you can’t make it to the restaurant today, don’t worry, the soup is a mainstay on the menu for ($9.98).

Choi’s Garden
1303 Rycroft St.
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Max’s of Manila

  • Max's Classic Chicken Adobo ($9.95)
  • Max's Coconut Cream Chicken Adobo ($11.95)
  • Max's Marinated Braised Pork Adobo ($11.95)
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It’s a Filipino fiesta this new year at Max’s of Manila, my go-to hot spot for all my Filipino favorites.

With more than 120 branches in the Philippines alone and additional locations nationwide, Max’s also calls the Islands home with one eatery on Dillingham Boulevard and another in Waipahu Shopping Plaza. Although the establishment is known for its famed fried chicken, it’s the pork and chicken adobo that also has mouths watering. According to Elizabeth Joven, operations manager of the Dillingham location, Max’s Adobo Festival is drawing in quite a crowd.

“Max’s Adobo Festival is a recent thing, and we’re featuring three different adobo dishes. Adobo (stewed meats) is a staple in Filipino cuisine, and here at Max’s we’re celebrating the diversity of this dish,” Joven says, noting that Classic Chicken Adobo ($9.95), Marinated Braised Pork Adobo ($11.95) and Coconut Cream Chicken Adobo are festival highlights.

Stick to the classics with Classic Chicken Adobo, a popular Philippine chicken stew richly marinated in a sauce comprised of vinegar and shoyu. The meal is enhanced with subtle flavors of bay leaf, garlic and whole peppercorn, garnished with a hint of green onion and egg.

If you adore the classic chicken adobo, add some zest to your meal this new year, and sink your teeth into Coconut Cream Chicken Adobo (Adobo Sa Gata).

“The Adobo Sa Gata has gained much popularity since we put it on the menu,” Joven adds. “It features chopped chicken slowly simmered in coconut milk, vinegar and soy sauce. It’s also topped with flavors of bay leaf, garlic and whole peppercorn, along with red bell peppers, long beans and whole chili.”

These dishes are absolutely delicious, but, when pairing an adobo with savory garlic rice, my preferred choice is Marinated Braised Pork Adobo (Pinatuyong Adobo), with marinated pork chunks braised in a vinegar and soy sauce reduction, and topped with savory garlic, peppercorn and other special seasonings. Finally it’s dressed with bits of green onion, succulent diced tomatoes and chopped onions to make it a sarap (tasty) dish like no other.

Max’s of Manila
801 Dillingham Blvd. (also located in Waipahu Shopping Plaza)
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Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best