Catering to kama’aina
Friday - April 04, 2008
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When Shokudo restaurant opened its doors three years ago on Kapiolani Boulevard, the aim was to attract local diners.
“The reason we’re here and not in Waikiki is that we always wanted to have a local crowd and not rely on tourists,“says general manager Sam Eligio.
Fair pricing, stylish surroundings, friendly staff and good food have ensured a steady following - from families to late-night clubbers - despite the closure of the street and almost a year of construction work nearby. Now that the sidewalk is open and foot traffic can again pass Shokudo’s distinctive red doors,the future looks brighter than ever.
“Since Nordstrom opened, it has been a boom,” says Sam. “And it’s nice to see people walking on this side of the street again.”
It’s not unusual for first-time diners to arrive with a pre-conceived notion that Shokudo might be pricey.
“People come in, see the décor and the environment and think it’s expensive,“says Sam.“But once they see the menu, the portion sizes and then realize that we encourage sharing, they’re usually really happy.”
There are some “don’t miss"items on the menu: Agedashi Tofu ($6.95) or Fresh Homemade Tofu ($6.95), for example, where silky smooth tofu is made in house every day. Or try the Char Siu Pork and Tokyo Negi ($6.95), where pork is thinly sliced and lightly grilled and then topped with the Tokyo Negi.
A variety of sushi rolls feature the Shokudo version of a California Roll ($8.95), colorful Rainbow Rolls ($13.95) and the popular Spicy Tuna Roll ($9.95).An intriguing addition to the menu that works really well is Beef Tataki on Balsamic Sushi ($11.95),where thin slices of beef are draped over sushi rice seasoned with rich balsamic then topped with crispy onion slices. But the sharing fun begins in earnest with the arrival of entrees. I love the Ishiyaki Unagi Rice ($8.95) that comes in a hot stone bowl. Leave the rice to sit in the 500 degree pot and it soon crisps on the bottom and starts to turn a golden-brown color. The crunch and texture of the rice adds much to the dish that’s topped with grilled unagi.
And you have to try the Sushi Pizza at least once.“People love this,” says Sam of the rice-based “pizza” on a bed of nori. “We wanted to take regular pizza off the menu and offer something different, so we used our rice, added crab, salmon and jalapeno, and baked it. Amazingly, it works!”
For noodle hounds - especially those who get their cravings very late at night - there are udon noodles in soup, Kalbi cold noodles or comforting yakisoba topped with sukiyaki beef,spicy shrimp or chicken karaage.
If you stop by late at night (the restaurant is open until 1 a.m.week-nights and until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday) and need no more to satisfy than a colorful cocktail and a huge dessert, then grab a seat at the stylish bar and have an order of the gigantic, puffy Honey Toast topped with ice cream. My favorite is the deconstructed Shaved Ice ($6.95) with green tea and sweet adzuki beans.
“We have something for everyone,” says Sam of the menu that changes seasonally.“We like to say that at Shokudo there’s a combination of food cultures with a touch of Japanese.”
Shokudo Japanese Restaurant
Ala Moana Pacific Center
1585 Kapiolani Blvd. 941-3701
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