HUNGRY for Japanese food in Manoa are they? It was a nine-month wait between the time Kamigata's closed its doors, and Hanaki Restaurant opened on Thanksgiving Day 1996 - an auspicious day if I ever knew one, since I too was born on a Thanksgiving Day. (I'm not saying what year.)
double diners pleasure
These days the restaurant is packed, even on weekdays and even though the prices are higher than at Kamigata's. No one seems to hold back. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and wherever one looks in the evening, there are elegant trays bearing the likes of Deep-Fried Chicken Karaage ($13.50); Salmon ($15.50) broiled simply with a touch of salt or teriyaki sauce; or Shrimp Tempura ($13.50).
For those into grazing, there is a series of Robata-yaki, or grilled skewered items, such as the large sailboat scallop hotategai ($3.50), shishamo (female sardines, $4.50) and mezashi (male sardines, $4.50).
At the risk of offending feminists and chauvinists, I'd say go for the females. Laden with crunchy-textured roe, these were much tastier than the bitter-fleshed males.
If you like a lot of green onion, Hanaki also serves nigi-maki ($5.50), a teriyaki beef roll encasing the pungent greens. It's hardcore stuff.
DO-IT-YOURSELFERS will be at home with a tabletop presentation of Shabu Shabu. A regular order of the cook-it-yourself stock-pot meal runs $18.75 and includes sliced beef, mushrooms, wakame (seaweed), carrots and green onions.
A larger yokozuna portion, befitting a sumo-size appetite, runs $24.95 and includes thick, chewy udon noodles in addition to the above.
For something a little different, there is the Ishiyaki, or Hot Rock, a ceramic sort of hot plate, heated underneath by "some kind of wax," our waiter said. This and a generous pat of butter provides a suitable cooking surface for thinly sliced beef, tofu, an inchlong slab of eggplant and a duo of broiler and enoki mushrooms. You'll want to enjoy the spaghetti-like enoki mushrooms raw though, to get the most out of their exquisite crunch and delicate flavor.
The Shabu Shabu, Ishiyaki and an array of sushi are things you can't get at a second, older Hanaki, a successful sister restaurant located in the Sam Sung Plaza at 655 Keeaumoku St. (Call 955-1347.)
The first Hanaki is geared toward quick and casual dining, although prices are about the same as at the Manoa restaurant.
Although the Manoa Hanaki is supposed to be the classier joint, the furnishing is just as plain as the older Hanaki. The low ceilings, blank walls and close-set tables don't speak of luxury, but of family dining.
The keiki are certainly welcome and get by on a $7 kid's menu, which buys Junior Boy miso soup, two pieces of deep-fried gyoza, two pieces of sushi, potato salad and a choice of one of the following entrees: Chicken Katsu, Chicken Teriyaki, Tonkatsu, Beef Teriyaki or Chicken Karaage. The latter beats KFC.
Hanaki RestaurantWhere: Manoa Marketplace, 2750 Woodlawn Drive
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch; 5 to 9:30 p.m. for dinner Mondays through Saturdays
Prices: About $16 to $20 for two for lunch; about $32 to $40 for two for dinner
- excellent;To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- very good, exceeds expectations;
- below average.