Spice Up the Season With Curry

Columns Ono, You Know

September 22, 2013

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

Autumn is officially here, and Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Lattes, progressively cooler nights and a fashion-forward fall wardrobe are just a few of my favorite introductions to the season. And from a food enthusiast standpoint, my cravings for refreshingly lighter fare seem to vanish, leaving me yearning for rich and rustically dense dishes made with immense amounts of passion and love.

This week, I decided to welcome this festive season with none other than curry! Let’s be honest, if the opportunity presented itself, I could eat all variations of this good stuff all day, every day.

So, without further ado, I’m calling all curry lovers to check out the following Ono, You Know establishments — these hot spots will most certainly bring some spice to your life!

Asahi Grill

Local comfort food lies just behind the doors of Asahi Grill on Ward Avenue, where continuity is key. In fact, some recipes have remained the same for 20 years and kamaaina always gravitate to the restaurant’s renowned specials, such as Asahi’s “Famous” Oxtail Soup, Baked Short Ribs and Lup Cheong Fried Rice.

With every visit, my mouth waters in anticipation of what’s to come. Most recently, my taste buds have been calling out for curry, so Asahi Grill’s Shrimp Stir Fry Curry and Chicken Katsu Curry are heaven sent.

A proven winner and my personal favorite, Shrimp Stir Fry Curry is priced at $9.95 and warms the soul with a Japanese-style curry adorned with sliced bell peppers, carrots, celery, round onions and morsels of tender shrimp. For the katsu curry lover, Chicken Katsu Curry is also priced at $9.95, presenting diners with katsu-style chicken fillet breaded and fried a crispy golden brown and doused in a savory curry sauce.

Both irresistible entrees are completed with two scoops of white or brown rice and macaroni or tossed salad.

“What makes our curry so special is that it’s homemade,” says manager Victoria Sayno. “Our customers love it and people even order it in large pans to take home.”

This routinely packed 50-seat restaurant boasts a selection of curries that completely warm the heart, soul and stomach. Asahi Grill always satisfies!

Asahi Grill
515 Ward Ave.

Pimtong Thai Cafe

There are few things in life that I love more than authentic Thai cuisine. Therefore, when Pimtong Thai Cafe opened for business in Kalihi, there was one more reason for me to smile. Owner Pim Banks creates all dishes from traditional Thai recipes, and her passion for cooking stems from a love of cooking for her family.

While the menu presents a variety of alluring fare, it’s the assortment of curries — all loaded with flavor — that owns the spotlight. Available in green, red, yellow, panang “evil jungle” and massaman varieties, all curry selections can be prepared to accommodate preferred levels of heat and spice combinations and come with a choice of tofu ($8.50), chicken ($8.95), beef ($8.95), pork ($8.95), shrimp ($9.95), calamari ($9.95) or seafood ($10.95).

Then, treat your palate to Pimtong Thai Cafe’s Pineapple Curry with Shrimp ($9.95). Available upon request, this sweet-and-sour entree is basically the epitome of perfection, as it consists of a red curry base infused with hints of pineapple, Thai ginger, lemongrass, lime leaf and a blend of other spices. Rice is served a la carte.

So, sprinkle a bit of zest on to your plate at Pimtong Thai Cafe, where you don’t need to travel to the city of Bangkok to experience Thai food at its finest.

Pimtong Thai Cafe
1311 N. King St.

Chinpei Ramen

Lunch is in a bowl of Chinpei ramen — curry ramen, that is. For the past five years, owner Yoshi Hashigami has worked hard to expand his menu from a mere 10 items to a full-blown 80-item list to choose from, while also catering to the masses, specializing in vegetarian options and gluten-free ramen — all dishes are also free of MSG.

Chinpei’s Curry Ramen ($10.30 small, $11.30 medium, $12.80 large) is exceptional. The noodles are cooked al dente (from scratch) and served hot in a large bowl of flavorful broth. The all-natural curry soup base is amazing and the aroma alone is enough to make you salivate before the first bite. Between slurps of ramen, chunks of carrots, onions, potatoes and chicken will also elevate your dining pleasure, along with green onion as garnish. Udon can be substituted for an additional cost.

According to Hashigami, Curry Rice also has a large fan base, as patrons can enjoy their curry with pieces of chicken, chicken karaage, pork katsu, chicken katsu, oysters or beef.

Curry is definitely making a splash at Chinpei Ramen.

Chinpei Ramen
2080 S. King St.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best