Izakaya Danji – Honolulu, HI

A new izakaya on the scene? I’m there. I’m a sucker for izakayas and Izakaya Danji is the newest one! The ratings on Yelp so far, quite mixed. We decided to give them a try anyway! We went in on Saturday night, right after they opened. I did call in to ask for a reservation and the waiter basically said, no need because they had a lot of tables open. Yes, yes they did. Some Yelp reviews state junk service and slow food service, well I experienced none of that! Great service and the food came out pretty quick!

Smashed Cucumber • $3.50

We’ve been really into smashed cucumbers lately and love that we find it in almost all the izakayas. How was the one here? Thumbs down. Absolutely no flavor. They seriously just smashed a few pieces of cucumber, dusted it with sesame seed powder and added a dollop of gochujjang on the side. No thank you. In fact, this flavorless dish inspired me to make my own smashed cucumbers the day after. I made a pretty good go at it, will probably post a recipe up when I perfect it. 🙂

Assorted Sashimi • $20.00

Another bummer of a dish! And for $20, I expected more. I mean…where’s the salmon?? Ahi, hamachi, hirame, katsuo (bonito), and fresh tako from Japan. The sashimi pieces were just okay, nothing to wow about. Wouldn’t order this again.

Corn • $4.25

Okay, this was one of my favorite dishes. Yes, corn. I liked that they sliced it off the cob…this corn is cooked on the grill and slathered in a nice teriyaki type sauce. Loved the smokiness from the grill and the sweetness from the sauce, it was a nice balance. You still technically have to eat this corn off the cob, but in a more dainty manner and with your chopsticks. I would order this again!

Seafood Bowl (Sesame Soy Sauce) • $14.50

Another bummer. Why? It’s basically the same fish as the assorted sashimi, plus a few pieces of cooked fish here and there. Not a fan of the pieces of fish, but the rice and the sauce was good. Would order again if I knew what types of fish were in for that day.

Kakuni (Japanese Style Pork Stew) • $11.25

Droolll…look when is this dish ever wrong? Oh wait, it can go wrong. If they don’t cook the pork down enough, the meat isn’t tender enough. The first two pieces were plenty tender, the last piece wasn’t. Now that I see the price tag again for the dish, I wouldn’t recommend it. Also wish the dish came with a little bit of rice for all that sauce….

Chicken Wings (Salt and Pepper) • $5.99

Hands down another favorite of the night. They do a great job seasoning and frying up these wings. It’s too bad this dish was near the end, I would have liked it earlier so I could have saved room in my tummy for another order. Heh.

Salmon Fried Rice (Special of the Day) • $9.95 (?)

This dish wasn’t mine but it was highly enjoyed – so if you see it on the specials for the day, get it!

Tan Tan Udon (Szechuan Sesame Soup Udon) • $10.25

Okay, my dish! So, I had two things that affected me and this dish. Firstly, the picture in the menu is hard to see so I thought this udon dish was sauced, versus served in soup. That was a bit of a surprise…though the title says soup so I guess it’s my fault. Also, this dish comes with a level 1 to 5 spice. I chose 3 to be safe, well 3 might as well be called mild. My friend tried some soup and he can’t even handle spice and felt this dish was mild. LEVEL THREE. I guess if I get this dish again, I would ask for level 5, but I’ll bet it will be weak sauce. I should ask for a level 10…

So what did I think of the restaurant? Well, it was okay. It wasn’t great nor was it bad. The food wasn’t anything special so I think I will still stick to my usual izakayas. Don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself! By the way, the parking lot attached to this restaurant is open for customer parking even though the sign says clinic parking only – I checked with the waiter.

Ginger & Garlic – Chinatown, HI

Formerly Gold Fortune, Ginger & Garlic is now under new management and still serving up some good dim sum! And if you get the chance, spot out the guy with the majestic long hair. He’s almost like a unicorn to me, you don’t see much Chinese dudes with long wavy hair. He seems to take on different roles, I wonder if he’s an owner? Please enlighten me if you do know!

Seafood Bundle in Bead Curd • $4.95

One of my absolute favorite dim sum dishes. The bean curd wrapping is soft and holds together succulent morsels of seafood and a shiitake mushroom. I recommend this dish!

Shrimp Dumpling with Chives • $3.45

I like this dish, it’s not a must have for me but I like the thin skin of the dumpling and the shrimp and chives complement each other so well.

Shrimp Dumpling • $3.45

A staple in dim sum dining! It’s good here, not great.

Siu Mai • $3.45

This is my all time favorite dim sum dish. Nothing like the local kine (from da manapua man) – this is the real thing. I love it and they do it great here.

Seafood Chow Mein • $10.95

I have a soft spot for Seafood Chow Mein, not sure why. I think it stems from the Chinese parties I attended as a child, this was always a dish served to show wealth I’m sure. Every restaurant serves it up differently but I always enjoy it. While the crispy noodles are good, I actually like it when the noodles get soft under the gravy. Mmm…now I’m craving dim sum again…

Mitsu-Ken Okazu and Catering – Kalihi, HI

I haven’t been to Mitsu-Ken Okazu and Catering since they were located in their original School Street location. It was a miracle they had so much business in their original location with no parking! I decided to try their new location out last week because I had a hankering for some good ‘ole garlic chicken. Their new location has a lot of parking, much easier to maneuver especially early in the morning. It can be a bit confusing when you get in since there are a lot of folks standing around, head straight to the cashier if you are ready to order. The folks standing around are most likely waiting for their food.

Breakfast Deluxe • $6.75

2 Scoops Fried Rice, 2 Eggs (any style), 2 Strips of Bacon & 3 Pieces of Portuguese Sausage

Great deal! I don’t really like bacon but wanted to get their breakfast so I got the deluxe! I shared the bacon with my coworker and enjoyed the breakfast. I like that you can order your eggs the way you want it, they are pretty quick too! This was ono.

Fried Saimin Bento • $7.50

Fried Saimin, Garlic Chicken, Egg Omelette, Portuguese Sausage & Rice with Furikake

This is a great deal! And this bento has everything I want in a bento! Great fried saimin, portuguese sausage (yes, I got it again!) and of course the garlic chicken! I didn’t get to heat it up for lunch but it still tasted good cold. I love that I can pick up breakfast and lunch before heading into work. Mitsu-ken, once a classic, always a classic!


Pho Que Huong – Honolulu, HI

This may be a controversial statement, but I feel like the pho I have had in Vietnamese restaurants have been generally the same. Of course there are going to be nicer restaurants that offer better broths, but I am not locked down to a specific restaurant because I know I can get a good bowl of pho in most restaurants. Pho Que Huong is the newest Vietnamese Restaurant in Chinatown and after viewing pictures on Yelp, I had to try it. For the pho? Sure, gotta have that…but mainly for the Prawns dish! I’m a sucker for prawns. Pics time!

Medium Pho • $9.00

Great bowl of pho, tasted delicious. I liked that they served up the raw meat with raw onions. Doesn’t the meat look nice and red? It was a good bowl of pho, was it something that knocked my socks off? No, but it was good.

Tom Kho Tau (Prawns in Roe Sauce) • $15.00

At first look, $15 for two prawns doesn’t seem like a great value. However, if you go to Romy’s in the North Shore and order a Prawn plate, you get three big prawns for over $25 so maybe it’s not a terrible deal. Although, I should probably just go to a seafood market and buy my own prawns to make a dish. Sorry, I got sidetracked.

This was a great dish, it is savory in a salty, fishy (in a good way), and caramelized sauce. Very flavorful. It was so awesome to put some of the sauce onto the rice…and the heads of prawns have the best “miso” to eat! I was very happy to eat this, would I order it again? It’s a bit pricey so it’s not going to be a mainstay but a once-in-a-while treat is nice! This is a great restaurant because they serve a variety of dishes – I consider it a very full menu with some dishes you can’t find elsewhere. Parking, this is in Chinatown so you should already guess how that goes. We parked in a private lot across the street and paid $2 for an hour, we were able to dine in the restaurant and leave within the hour.

Mixed Plate – Osaka Edition

Happy Aloha Friday! Just wanted to do a post with some random pictures I wouldn’t be able to create full posts out of…from Osaka! Enjoy!

Okay, I have to admit…Coca Cola Peach was the drink I really really wanted to try in Japan. I read that it was a limited edition and prayed it would still be there when I took my trip. I actually ran into the 711 as we walked to the apartment and found it. Hallelujah. After a very long travel, I just wanted for throw down and take a big drink of this drink. Ummm…well, I didn’t like it. To me, it tastes nothing like peach….or if it tasted like peach, it tasted very artificial, almost flowery. I did not like it and would not get this again.

Check this out! I had to get a quick pic of this as we walked around…they have Aloha Maid! 80 cents a can, special discount. Haha! Is how our cans read too? Passion & Orange? I always thought it was just passion orange.

OKAY, HERE IS MY FAVORITE DRINK. Sorry for the yelling, but I really enjoyed this drink. It was delicious and refreshing. Okay, you see the word vitamin on the bottle but let’s be real, this drink ain’t healthy in any way and I no care. I even snuck a few bottles home…and regret not sneaking more. Okay, maybe I just need to buy some coke here and add my own lemon. So good…

For two days, I bought food from 711 the night before to have for breakfast. I had a hard time adjusting to Japan time so I usually woke up before 5am and got hungry. Here is one of the musubi packs, salmon and mayo tuna. Oh my, so good. The quality of the ingredients is just so great. You know how the musubis are here? We put it in the fridge and then it’s rock hard. Well these musubis stay ono and soft. 711 in Japan is awesome.

Last dish to share…I love soba so this was one of my meals. I love that they give you a little packet of water to add to the noodles so they don’t stay stuck together. Man…wish our 711 would step up their game. And they sold these two dashi eggs on the side, yup I ate both and yup both were perfectly cooked and seasoned. Orange runny yolk for the win. Have a great weekend guys.

Ikinari Steak – Osaka, Japan

As I mentioned in a previous post, our last day in Osaka was located around the main Osaka Station. After some shopping, we had a hankering for some good lunch. I had a hankering for steak, lo and behold…Ikinari Steak! This was a quick find, there was a line of Japanese natives outside the shop, this should be good no? The prices were reasonable and they were busy, LET’S DO THIS.

Coca Cola • ¥300 (yikes!)

Wild Steak (300 g) • ¥1,390

Lunch Set A (Rice and Salad) • ¥300

Being non-Japanese speakers, it was a little bit confusing to order at this restaurant. The waitress was very nice and gave us English menus and proceeded to help us with the ordering. It’s a bit confusing because you have to walk up to the grill master to ask him to cook up your meat. Well, he didn’t really know English so we couldn’t quite get across that we wanted medium rare. Well the steak still came out pretty nicely cooked, though the hot plate kept cooking the steak past my temperature liking. For about $14, the serving of steak was a decent portion but I didn’t think it was anything special. In fact, I think I enjoyed the salad the most (is this becoming a theme?). I liked that they have all the salad dressings and steak sauces at your table for you to use. Aside from the costly soda, this lunch was good and cheap! I would recommend it if you’re feeling up to some steak!

Ichiran Dotonbori – Osaka, Japan

There are two Ichiran locations in the Dotonbori shooping area, one is on the waterfront by the big Don Quijote Ferris Wheel, the other is located deeper within the Dotonbori shopping arcade. We went to the second location and I finally got to try their famous cubicle dining system. Boy was that…interesting.

Does it look cramped? Well, it kind of is. They have both the cubicle dining and regular seats. The restaurant is like a zoo, you get in line and then are led to a machine to place your order. We got our dining tickets and were led to the line for the cubicles, a narrow staircase. We had a bit of a wait but it wasn’t too bad.

Here is the one side of the cubicle, you can order any extra toppings/side orders here…and drinks!

So they give you a new order sheet for any impromptu orders. Cash only!

They have a button for you to make your extra orders, other than that, you have no real interaction with the servers.

You see that bamboo looking mat in front of my noodles? That’s what they lift up to serve your noodles, then it’s back down for your privacy.

I ordered my noodles with an egg. Wasn’t a big fan of having to crack my own egg for the ramen, would have liked it to have been served already in my bowl. I can report that the egg was cooked perfectly, of course it was!

Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant – Osaka, Japan

I was in Osaka for 4 days and ate breakfast at Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant twice, I think that speaks for itself. This was a great restaurant, I wish I had taken more pictures. You order your food at the machine located in the front of the restaurant (there is an English screen!), take your ticket, have a seat and hand your ticket over to the waitress. Within 5 minutes, your food arrives. They have a little area that offers hot tea and a big pot of rice, in case you want more. The prices for the food, super reasonable. We only got to try breakfast there but that was enough for me. I’m sold and would love to return when I return!

How can you beat these prices??

Fried Egg Breakfast • ¥460

This was my first breakfast, simple fried egg and sausage. The set comes with unlimited white rice, tofu, nori, and miso soup. I like that this restaurant automatically serves iced water when you have a seat, not all Japanese restaurants do. Oh yes, that is a mountain of shredded cabbage you see. Japanese people love their cabbage, I wasn’t feeling too hungry so I didn’t eat the cabbage…gomen…

Silver Salmon Breakfast • ¥530

Ummm…five bucks for all this?? Salmon, raw egg, natto, miso soup, unlimited white rice….$5?? Great deal. I should have gotten this set both days. Mixing the raw egg into the hot rice…adding soy sauce…and then of course the natto…was so delicious, so satisfying. This is what I call an awesome Japanese breakfast. I wish we had these breakfast sets sold here in Hawaii, I would totally go all the time. Well having the same price here would help too but let’s be realistic…haha. Highly recommend this restaurant!