One of the great things about having family visit is that you get invited to eat at restaurants. The other day, we went to one of Becky's and my favorites: Shokudo on Kapiolani Blvd., adjacent to the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Roy's is fancier, and Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas may ultimately be the best tasting of all, but for delicious flavors, variety, and reasonable prices, Shokudo is a hard combination to beat when looking for Japanese fusion cooking.
One of the things you might notice is that some aspects of Korean cuisine are present at Shokudo. You find this in the Shrimp with Garlic Rice, which is finished at your table in a stone pot, the same kind used to make dolsot bibimbap (there is a version of that on the menu as well). It produces a delicious essence to the rice, especially if you let the rice sizzle in the pot for awhile, and you get the delicious, dark roasted, nutty flavor in the rice Koreans call kosohae.
The sushi offerings are both traditional and non-traditional. My favorite is the spicy ahi on crispy rice topped with the most wonderful condiment ever: pickled jalapeno peppers, which I am guessing are sliced and simmered in shoyu and vinegar. You can ask for them on the side, and my nephew and I shared three of them. I can't get enough of them!
Something that doesn't sound like much is the tofu salad, but it is really very good. The tofu is homemade, is silky soft, and is seasoned perfectly.
Unusual is the unusually good mochi gratin: cubes of mochi topped with cheese and baked until it all melts into a mass of deliciousness not unlike baked brie.
Another nod to Korean cuisine is the Morioka cold noodles, Shokudo's take on naeng myun (more about that dish in a couple of weeks). The noodles are nice and chewy, and are served in a clear tangy broth with scallions, kim chee, and bean sprouts.
Just about everything is good at Shokudo. The french fries are among the best fries in Hawaii, seasoned with ume (Japanese plum) salt, which sounds strange but it works. The karaage chicken and tempura calamari are also winners.
The best known dessert is called honey toast: super thick toast cut into cubes, drizzled with honey and usually served a la mode. I really am not sure why it's so popular, because it is by far the most ordinary thing on the menu. Far better is baked banana (the restaurant's version of the classic Bananas Foster): a banana sliced lengthwise in a caramel sauce and flamed. Ice cream is served on the side.
Good news for those of you who live in Southern California: there is now a location in Arcadia and one in Irvine. The California restaurants are called Tokyo Table, but the menu is pretty much the same.
We were a three generation table for dinner and everyone enjoyed it immensely. I think you will, too.
Grace and aloha,
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