Pau Hana Patrol: Ichiriki
By NINA WU / firstname.lastname@example.org
If you enjoy hot pot, then getting started a little earlier in the day may well be worth the bang for your buck at Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant’s newest location in Kaneohe.
I’ve been to the Ala Moana location of Ichiriki, and the Windward experience is much easier — without the stress of crowds or tight parking spaces. The restaurant is next door to Longs Drugs at Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center, and parking in a large lot is free.
The restaurant’s interior offers modern decor and contemporary, white leather seats, while tables are divided by shoji screens. Tables for two and four are in the front area, but a suite of beautiful tatami rooms (where patrons sit on the floor) are available along the back. Clean restrooms with Zen decor are an added plus.
If you come early in the afternoon, there’ll be plenty of tables to choose from. More diners start to filter in at 5 p.m.
Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center
From the time you step inside to the time you’re done, I found the service here to be really hospitable. Though an assigned server for your table explains how the hot pot works and brings out the dishes, there were many others who would check on our table walking by, whether it was to bring extra chopsticks or pour extra broth into the pot.
A broad choice of pupu are offered during happy hour, reasonably priced from $2 to $5.50 per platter, meaning you can order three or four in addition to the hot pot deal without going over budget.
There’s the usual fare, like salted edamame ($2), chicken karaage and ahi poke ($4). The platters are small but beautifully presented. The chicken pieces were small, too, but accompanied by two sauces: a white mayo sauce and a spicy, red Sriracha.
A highlight was the garlic shrimp: six pieces of plump and lightly battered shrimp, offering a nice crispness when bitten into. We loved this dish.
Another pleasure was the kobe beef shabu shabu, perfect for a party of two ($17.95). This offered 5 ounces of Kobe beef to cook in a basic broth, along with all the trimmings, including fresh cabbage, carrots, tofu and shiitake mushroom. It came with a bowl of rice and your choice of ramen or udon.
The basic broth is just fine and comes with a trio of sauces: a creamy sesame, a ponzu and a mix of finely chopped daikon and scallions. If you prefer a little more spice or a specific flavor (ginger, tomato, shoyu), an upgrade is just $2. If you want an extra serving of udon, it’s $1.50.
The best deal on drinks is $2 for a 16-ounce mug of chilled Kirin, which goes down crisp and smooth ($4.95 regular). I thought the Kirin was an ideal accompaniment for the hot pot meal and happy hour pupu.
The price is the same, $2, if you prefer Bud Light, Miller Lite or Coors Light ($3.95 regular).
If you’re into them, shochu cocktails are also available at $4 a glass, in flavors of peach, green apple or lychee (regular $6).
Definitely worth a trip to the Windward side for these deals!
Ichiriki is a good pau hana choice for a party of two seeking hot pot. When I got the bill, it was pleasantly less than expected, considering I had ordered four appetizers, a broth upgrade and extra noodles.
If we weren’t already full, we could have topped off the meal with dessert.