Hot pot heavenRestaurant Insider
October 30, 2023
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: Anne Lee and Kamitoku Japanese Hot Pot
Hot pot restaurants are becoming more popular since it’s a healthy meal with lots of choices and a unique experience with each bite. Kamitoku Japanese Hot Pot is located in Market City Shopping Center and offers its signature beef broth that’s served at sister restaurant Kamitoku Ramen.
I met with owner Junichi Kamitoku — whose father created the beef broth in 1949 in Tottori, Japan — and talked about how he’s keeping the legacy going.
AL: How did you get into the restaurant industry?
JK: My father started a ramen shop in Tottori, Japan, and this legacy has been passed down to my brother and me. In 2014, I opened a Kamitoku Ramen food truck in Waikiki, and in 2021, we opened our first brick-and-mortar restaurant at Ward Village: Kamitoku Ramen. We opened Kamitoku Japanese Hot Pot in February.
AL: What makes this broth so special?
JK: The broth is made from washugyu beef bone, and we cook it in a pressure cooker for about four hours. There is a special recipe using imported soy sauce from Tottori. Dipping sauces are not the core; the broth is what is the main ingredient to make the ramen and hot pot taste so good.
The Beefy Marina is the original light shoyu beef broth that’s traditional Japanese style, and the Beefy Wild, which is a local favorite, is the same broth as the Beefy Marina but creamier. We create this creamy texture by emulsifying the broth. We do not add anything to make it creamy.
AL: Are there other broth options?
JK: The bone broth base comes in other flavor options. We recommend that guests try the umami first without sauces. We do have homemade yuzu ponzu and sesame sauce available by request. There is the Beefy Spicy broth, The Wild Spicy broth, Beefy Miso (creamy wild broth with Hokkaido miso paste), Beefy Sukiyaki (beef broth with flavors of stewed beef), and for $1 more you can order the Beefy Yuzu broth or the Beefy Seabura, a classic Japanese-style sukiyaki.
AL: What makes your eatery unique to Hawaii’s restaurant scene?
JK: I actually enjoyed hot pot for dinner at home. My wife, Marina, would use the leftover ramen broth to make hot pot. We would all sit together as a family, laughing, smiling and talking. I wanted to bring that same feeling to everyone and share that happiness and encourage dining together.
AL: What did chef prepare for us to try today?
JK: We have the Kamitoku Set that is designed for one person for dinner. It starts at $22 and includes your choice of meat and starch (options include ramen, ube udon, white rice or Zosui set, which is Japanese-style porridge). It also includes won bok, bok choy, tofu, gyoza, oyster mushroom mochi kinchaku and two choices of Yakumi-Japanese seasoning.
We also have the Japanese Set that also starts at $22 per person. This includes one choice of meat, won bok, shungiku, tofu, shiitake, Malony (Japanese glass noodle) and deep-fried bean curd, plus your choice of starch and two choices of Yakumi-Japanese seasoning.
If customers do not want to order the set, they can order items a la carte.
AL: What are the popular meat choices?
JK: The mugifuji pork, which tastes more sweeter, and the washugyu meat, which is a blend of the wagyu and beef. We offer four different options of washugyu on our menu. Homemade gyoza is popular, and we make it in house every day.
AL: What promotions do you have right now?
JK: We have a happy hour 5-6 p.m. daily featuring Nigori sake starting at $1.99 and appetizers from $3.
AL: Anything else you want to share?
JK: We have some great appetizers. Our cheese Beef Menchi Katsu ($10 for three pieces) is popular and one of a kind. It’s a crispy panko beef hamburger with ground beef, char siu, and cheese with breadcrumbs. It’s delicious. Our Taro Tempura ($6) is a local favorite.
We offer Henry’s Place sorbet on our menu. This is a tribute to our neighbor when we had our first food truck. We have been friends ever since.