A look at Menchanko Tei's new location
Beef intestine nabe with yuba
In business these days, whether it's magazines or restaurants, the mantra is to specialize: do one thing well, cater to a niche market. We have excellent ramen joints (Goma Tei and Ramen Nakamura), tonkatsu-only restaurants (Ginza Bairin and Kimukatsu), nabe-focused eateries (Ichiriki).
Menchanko Tei, however, goes against the grain. It has it all: ramen, tonkatsu, nabe. The new Keeaumoku location of Menchanko Tei opened recently, where short-lived tenants GoShiGo and Broadway Oyster Bar once were, and we went down the menu to see whether Menchanko Tei could do it all and do it well.
The verdict: everything is good, but it's not the best.
Pork tonkatsu is light and crispy, hardly greasy, and accompanied by tonkatsu sauce and sesame seeds ground in a mortar and pestle tableside, a lovely touch. But does it unseat Ginza Bairin for the Best Tonkatsu throne? Not for me.
Seafood and meat nabe
For nabe, I love the broth of the beef intestine hot pot, which our server tells us is the most popular nabe. I find the beef intestine really difficult to eat, however. Not the idea of it, but literally. it's hard to chew, and I end up swallowing pieces whole. But the flavor of the broth that accompanies it, as well as the richness the intestine lends to the soup beats the tamer, more accessible seafood and meat hot pot, which comes with shrimp, salmon, oysters, chicken and mochi. Get noodles after you finish the nabe, to throw into the pot and soak up all the goodness. There's no dipping sauce for the nabe so you might want to spice it up with the yuzu pepper condiment—salty, spicy, bright.
If the nabe is too much, but you want noodles, you can approximate the after-nabe-noodle experience with the Menchanko bowl, in which noodles are thicker than ramen, chewy and satisfying, served in a nabe pot, though the soup lacks the depth of beloved ramen joints around town.
As for dessert, your best bet is shave ice at the nearby City Cafe.
903 Keeaumoku St., 946-1888, menchankoteihawaii.com