Food La La: Buffet at Hakkei
BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Last week I had a craving for Japanese food. A craving so intense, I considered buying the cheapest ticket I could find and hopping on a plane to Japan. Thankfully, the logical side of my brain kicked in and I was able to find a much cheaper yet still delicious alternative to satisfy my need for an authentic Japanese meal.
Hakkei is a cozy restaurant hidden inside a concrete building at 1436 Young St., just off of Keeaumoku. They are well-known for their simple but deeply flavorful oden, which is a popular winter dish in Japan. Oden is dashi (broth) filled with pieces of fish cake, boiled eggs, daikon, tofu and konnyaku. It really warms you up and is comforting no matter the weather.
I recently learned Hakkei serves a rice porridge and okazu buffet every weekend for $15! Well, from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. anyway — and you absolutely have to make reservations. After that, the price goes up to $16.90 and it is first come, first served until 2 p.m.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a real Japanese buffet without natto and miso soup.
There’s salad and udon salad with a creamy goma dressing. The udon noodles have a nice chewy texture.
My stomach was delighted at the sight of all the colorful okazu. Pickled vegetables, ume, pumpkin, eggplant and more!
On the right is chicken and cabbage, and on the left is very soft satoimo (taro) simmered in dashi broth.
Here’s my spread of food! What I love about Japanese food is that it’s light yet still has tons of flavor. The dishes look simple but a lot of time and detail goes into making them. The buffet comes with two main entrees that change every week. This week’s entrees were shrimp tempura and a tofu and pork dish. The shrimp tempura was cooked perfectly so it was crispy and melted in your mouth. The pork was flavorful and tender.
Everyone gets rice porridge (I ordered mine with multi-grain rice) and a piece of saba.
For dessert there is yokan (jelly) with azuki beans and kinako. It’s not too sweet and a great way to end a meal.
I took a picture of my friend’s dessert because she made it look pretty.
Eating at Hakkei made me feel like I had been transported to Japan. My friend Masako Nakano, who is from Japan, agreed. For traditional Japanese food at an affordable cost, definitely check them out!