Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: IchifujiRestaurant Insider
December 12, 2021
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with Ichifuji owner TAKUYA TSUTSUMI, general manager AYA FURUTA and chef MITCHEL TOMAS
Ichifuji, located upstairs from sister restaurant Tori Ton, celebrates its one-year anniversary this month, and I was invited to try the Otoshi Nabe Premium Course Meal. I was excited to try the oxtail dashi that is simmered for over 10 hours.The meal has 13 courses that the chef prepares by hand.
This style of eating is very healthy, and the popular beef tongue and kurobuta pork offer essential vitamins and minerals. Owner Takuya Tsutsumi, general manager Aya Furuta and chef Mitchel Tomas walked me through the courses, showed me the best way to eat each bite, as well as how to enhance the flavors with Ichifuji’s signature homemade salt. Each course is exceptional in both quality and taste, and the simple delicious oxtail broth has zero calories and is worth every bit of the $98.50. In honor of their anniversary, they would like to share a complimentary glass of Rombauer Sauvignon Blanc or Hess Pinot Noir or Nihon Sakari sake with each premium course ordered through the end of this month.
AL: What does Ichifuji mean?
TT: Ichifuji means if you see Mount Fuji in your first dream of the year, the rest of the year will be amazing.
AL: Can you take me through each course?
TT: We start with adding the bowl of green onions into the oxtail broth and letting it simmer — trying the three appetizers while it heats up. Our popular beef tongue sashimi is always one of the three. It’s cooked for six hours sous vide style. We suggest adding the konbu salt, as it enhances the flavor. The other two appetizers are seasonal and change monthly. For December, we have botan shrimp with white truffle aioli and cream cheese with homemade sauce, a touch of honey and sliced almond slices. Next is a bowl of creamy chawanmushi, a steamed egg custard pudding, topped with fishcake, mochi, mushroom and wakame. Third is a seared lobster (4-5 ounces) with miso butter, and then fourth is a seared wagyu sushi, to which we suggest adding our homemade konbu salt.
Before we start on our nabe courses, we recommend you try the oxtail broth while it is still clear, as the flavor will change adding the meats. This oxtail broth is cooked for over 10 hours, and we use the highest-quality oxtail. Lots of love and labor goes into making it. Fifth is our famous beef tongue, which comes from a special wagyu beef farm and the flavor is exceptional. There are also dipping sauces we suggest adding to enhance the flavor. Sixth, our assorted vegetables consist of bok choy, spinach, tofu, mochi, shimeji mushrooms and potato starch noodles. The seventh is two rolls of U.S. wagyu beef wrapped with Chinese cabbage and cooked in the broth for about 10 seconds. Dish No. 8 are kurobuta pork rolls (100% Heritage Berkshire Natural Pork). Berkshire pigs are raised without using antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones, and have a powerhouse of essential vitamins and minerals.We suggest adding the lemon salt to this course.
The ninth, our monthly chef’s dish, is a parsnip purée with Swiss chard and braised oxtail in red wine. The next two courses (10 and 11) are tai snapper from Tsukiji and king crab (we serve this with shoyu and wasabi). Guests are encouraged to either warm it up in the broth or eat it like sashimi. For No. 12, we created a porridge (for an additional fee, you can choose soba or Chinese noodles in place of the rice) with the leftover oxtail broth prepared tableside.We add barley rice to the oxtail broth, then we add grated Yamaimo. Last but not least at 13 is our monthly dessert. Currently we have a coconut semifreddo with assorted local fruits. This is an Italian dessert that is similar to ice cream.
AL: Does the restaurant have a specific motto or mission it runs by?
TT: Our goal was to give guests authentic Japanese hospitality and the spirit of our cuisine. We want our customers to enjoy the food that we take pride in preparing, respecting our purveyors and using highest quality ingredients in a welcoming atmosphere.
AL: What other options does the restaurant offer?
TT: There are two other types of course meal options. The 10-course meal ($58.50) comes with our monthly appetizer trio, chawanmushi, nabe (beef tongue and assorted vegetables), two U.S. wagyu rolls, two kurobuta pork rolls, the monthly chef’s dish, tai snapper, barley rice porridge and dessert. The six-course meal ($39.80) features beef tongue, the monthly chef’s dish, two kurobuta pork rolls, the monthly chef’s dish, tai snapper, barley rice porridge and dessert.
You can also create your own nabe. The oxtail broth is $9 per person and some of the items you can order are beef tongue ($12), two pieces of wagyu ($9.80), two pieces of kurobuta pork ($6.90) and two pieces of tai snapper ($12.80).
For guests that want to order a la carte, these are most popular: beef tongue sashimi ($12), tai snapper sashimi ($12), chawanmushi ($4.50) or pickled onion in tamari sauce ($4.90). The full menu is online at ichifujihawaii.com/menu.
AL: Anything else you’d like to share?
TT: For the premium course meal, please allow about two-and-a-half hours for this experience. For the 10-course meal, allow about two hours, and the six-course meal, about one-and-a-half hours for a truly wonderful experience.