Down for Donburi

Columns Ono, You Know

April 20, 2014

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

Happy Sunday, Ono readers! Get ready for rice! Yeah, you’re probably thinking, “Who gets this excited about rice?” Well, I do — when it’s incorporated into donburi! Donburi is a Japanese dish diverse in types and flavors, but all-encompassing in terms of comfort. So whether you prefer your bowl of rice topped with chicken and egg, tempura or ahi, the choice is yours.

I find so much appeal in donburi, which exudes a sense of Japanese minimalism. While the rice takes on the form of a canvas, eclectic donburi toppings are the splatters of paint that beautify this edible masterpiece. Renowned works of art always have a magnetism that draws you in, and In reference to donburi, the sauce takes on that coveted role.

So, if you’re down for donburi, come along with me to the following Ono, You Know establishments (be sure to come with an appetite). Let’s dig deep and dish out a variety of flavors and textures all equating to a gratifying chew. Donburi, be happy!

Kozo Sushi

Life is onolicious, and the reason is simple. As one of the Island’s top picks for takeout sushi, Kozo Sushi definitely knows how to lure in Hawaii’s foodies who just cannot resist a quick stop for sushi. This particular franchise first began in Osaka, Japan, in 1976. Today, Kozo Sushi establishments are scattered around the island, with locations in Kahala Mall, Pearl City, Moiliili and Keeaumoku, to name a few.

Here at Kozo Sushi, quick service and quality fare are everything. Expert sushi makers hand-craft each sushi roll, utilizing all fresh ingredients and a special Kozo Sushi vinegar sauce perfectly mixed in the rice.

It’s a known fact that Kozo Sushi is the home of sushi galore … but believe me when I say that the eatery’s donburi selections are some of the best ever. Enter Spicy Ahi Don ($6.30), Salmon Ikura Don ($7.50), Unagi Don ($6.30) and Ebi Tempura Don ($6.25). Yup, you just got hungry!

But wait. There are two more options that I’m madly in love with: Spicy Kakiage Don ($6.25) and Ahi Poke Don ($6.99).

Ahi Poke Don is Kozo’s Japanese-inspired rice bowl that dazzles with local accents of fresh ahi doused in a special spicy sauce. Cubes of melt-in-your-mouth fish are complemented by Japanese cucumber, green onion and masago. Imagine all this over a bed of sushi rice. It’s ahi-mazing!

Finally, Spicy Kakiage Don has changed my life! Seriously. It’s so good, that I find myself daydreaming about the three luscious shrimp and vegetable tempura patties deep-fried to perfection drizzled with a spicy teriyaki sauce and garnished with green onions. When relishing this spectacular creation, grab ahold of your chopsticks and be sure to achieve equal parts sushi rice and tempura patty with every bite. Trust me on this. This perfect combination will knock your socks off!

Kozo Sushi
638 Keeaumoku St. (and various locations)

Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

Sekiya's Oyako Donburi ($9.95). Leah Friel file photo

Sekiya’s Oyako Donburi ($9.95). Leah Friel file photo

While I’m impressed by the emergence of diverse donburi concepts exhibiting themselves on Oahu’s dining scene, a donburi purist finds ultimate satisfaction in its most authentic form. That’s why Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen in Kaimuki is my happy place for classic Oyako Donburi ($9.95).

A favorite of mine since small-kid time, this simple dish always reminds me of my grandfather, who content in his ways, never veered away from his regular order of oyako donburi. And since my grandfather’s passing in February, oyako donburi is so much more than just comfort food to me. Now, whenever I dig into this simple bowl of rice topped with a sweet and savory omelette mixture of long rice, onions and morsels of chicken complemented by light shoyu sauce, it’s as if my grandfather still is with me; with each forkful I can recall his smiling face, and I am happy to enjoy this dish in his honor.

A family-owned restaurant, Sekiya’s has served up local favorites since the 1930s, and the cooks here rely on longtime recipes to ensure continuity in the restaurant’s homemade cuisine. In fact, rumor has it that Sekiya’s Oyako Don continues to offer the same great flavor it did from the very beginning.

You also can please your palate and warm your belly with Yakitori Donburi, Beef Tanin Donburi and Pork Tanin Donburi. Shrimp Tempura Donburi, Tendon, Katsudon and Unagi (eel) Donburi are top-sellers among donburi fanatics as well. There’s lots to smile about at Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen.

Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen
2746 Kaimuki Ave.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best