It’s the fifth restaurant incarnation in less than five years at this spot behind Walmart, but with Hawai‘i’s only tantan nabe, rich with pork and a spicy sesame broth, let’s hope Aki has staying power.
$$ | Japanese Restaurant Aki | 1427 Makaloa St. | 955-8528
Hakkei’s Japan-based chef defeated Masaharu Morimoto in Battle Angler Fish, back when Iron Chef reigned supreme on Japanese airwaves. Now the Honolulu outpost, hidden from street view in an office building, excels with simple, exquisitely prepared country dishes like oden and a Sunday brunch buffet, with rice porridge warmed in ceramic bowls tableside, and dozens of little dishes to pick and choose from. It always sells out, so definitely make reservations.
$$ (oden and weekend buffet) to $$$$ (kaiseki) | Hakkei | 1436 Young St. | 944-6688
Reservations are snapped up quickly at this tiny restaurant known for its handmade soba. It’s served hot or cold, with various additions like duck, grated radish and mushrooms, or a side of perfectly-fried tempura. When you’re done, Inaba brings out the soba-yu, the water used to cook the soba. Pour it into your dipping sauce and drink it down; it’s supposed to have healthful properties.
$$ | 1610 S. King St. | 953-2070
Mounds of fatty toro mixed with scallions, translucent orbs of salmon roe atop petals of raw salmon—Michinoku’s sushi bowls crown generous teishoku meals with miso soup, salad and sides.
$$ | Michinoku Restaurant | 835 Keeaumoku St. | 942-1414