As restaurants come and go from 1269 S. King St., some friends and I have come to dub the corner at Birch Street "Death Corner." Restaurants there have not been scintillating, but they've been decent. Worse restaurants seem to live forever, but at 1269 S. King, I don't think any restaurant has survived beyond 18 months.
Some phenomenon beyond food, beyond personalities, beyond business sense must be at work here. Could something be wrong with the site? I invited feng shui consultant Sharissa Yuk Lin Chun of Harmonious Creations to give me a verdict on the spot, home to Murakoshi Japanese Restaurant since December. Tick, tick, tick ...
Murakoshi is the most ambitious of tenants so far, offering a diverse menu of reasonably priced fare ranging from udon to grilled fish and cutlets.
A couple of readers have called to praise the food. Question is, can good food overcome bad feng shui?
Chun noted an overwhelming presence ofsha chi, or hard energy, instead of the positive energy called shen chi. The building lies in the shadow of a taller building. A vacant building kitty corner also exacerbates the feel of dead energy.
Since Birch is a one-way street, a sign just outside the door (of no use to drivers because it can only be read from across the street) reads "Do Not Enter," which may be sending a subliminal message.
Compounding problems, Chun said, the restaurant's prosperity corner is in its restroom. Oh well.
We felt disheartened by the time we got around to actually eating dinner. An order of delicate, lightly golden Deep-fried Tofu ($2.50) buoyed our spirits, as did an appetizer of crunchy, sesame-studded slivers of gobo ($2). Eggplant Dengaku ($4) was a half eggplant deep fried and presented in its skin with a glossy brown miso topping, sprinkled with sesame seeds so it looked like Chinese gau. The smooth, creamy and sweet flesh was easily scooped out.
The Savory Custard Cup ($4) also tempted, but I decided to splurge and order the Special Combination ($14.50), which included the custard. Also included with the special was Shrimp Tempura accompanied by okra, onions and more eggplant.
Orders arrived haphazardly. A Grilled Saba ($4.25 a la carte; $7.25 complete with miso soup, rice, pickles, etc.) entree arrived before the appetizers. Another entree of Crab Risotto ($6.50) arrived long after the other dishes. By the way, this "risotto" is a soupy rice gruel that should not be confused with trendier Italian risotto.
Lunch items are similar and a bit cheaper than dinner. There is no dessert. Aside from this omission, there was nothing wrong with the food at all.
As for the feng shui thing, well, Chun assures there are some "cures." This would involve such little additions as a mini waterfall near the door, moving a red lantern inside the doorway to outside, removing bamboo blinds that blockwindows, keeping both front doors open and hanging red tassels or crystals over the restroom.
With these items in place, we'd find out if feng shui is the culprit for restaurant failures.
See a listing of past restaurants reviewed in the
section online. Click the logo to go!
Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:
-- very good, exceeds expectations;
-- below average.
To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org