Giant shrimp, small prices

Jo McGarry
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Friday - April 11, 2008
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Hifumi's Elsie Ching: 'We have the biggest shrimp of any restaurant'
Hifumi’s Elsie Ching: ‘We have the biggest shrimp of any restaurant’

For good Japanese food and great value, it’s hard to beat Hifumi. Located within the Chinese Cultural Plaza in Chinatown, Hifumi is known for large portions, an endless supply of rice, giant shrimp and fluffy, golden tempura.

“We have always changed the oil for the tempura every day,” says the restaurant’s Elsie Ching. Elsie has worked at Hifumi for more than 20 years and believes one of the reasons so many regular customers come back is for the clean, fresh, sweet taste of the tempura.

“People know the difference,” she says.“When you use oil a second day, it is already different and you change the flavor of the tempura. By keeping it fresh every day, we keep the tempura light and let people taste the shrimp or vegetables inside.”

And while Hifumi might not be the fanciest restaurant in town, its giant shrimp tempura is sure to rival any for quality - and size. With three sizes of shrimp on the menu, there’s deluxe (26-30 count), jumbo (8-12 count) and giant jumbo - that one’s a foot long.

“We have the biggest shrimp of any restaurant,” says Elsie. “Even our smaller shrimp are larger than many others being served.”

While the regular menu at this unpretentious restaurant features Japanese staples like hot or cold udon or soba noodles, chicken teriyaki, chiri nabe, sukiyaki and tonkatsu, it’s the special menus, set meals and seasonal dishes that are well worth checking out. Recent “Specials of the Season” (look for them handwritten on a board by the kitchen) included Giant Jumbo Shrimp Tempura and vegetables for just $11.95, Wafu Sea Bass for $11.95 and plump, juicy Wafu Scallops for $14.95 - all served with miso soup, tsukemono and as much rice as you can eat.

Hifumi set meals
Hifumi set meals come with rice, tsukemono, salad and miso soup. An April senior special menu includes opakapaka and two shrimp tempura with tossed salad, gyoza, rice, tofu miso soup and tea for just $10.95

“We never charge for extra rice,” says Elsie.

Donburi and mendon are featured at Hifumi, too. Donburi bowls come with toppings like teriyaki chicken($5.95), pork loin simmered with egg ($6.95) or eel, shiitake mushrooms, tofu and egg ($8.95); mendon bowls feature udon noodles topped with broiled eel ($8.95), pork ($8.95) or chicken and onion simmered with egg ($7.95).

It’s easy to see that the restaurant’s humble surroundings contribute to the low prices, but foodies who enjoy seeking out momand-pop places still will be amazed at the prices. A 10-ounce fresh filet of opakapaka, for example, served either wafu style (sizzling on a hot plate with fresh garlic, soy sauce, ground onions and sake) or steamed with ginger, green onion, shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce is just $14.95 and comes with miso soup, tsukemono and rice. Add an order of sashimi for just $5 more or complete the gourmet meal with sashimi and shrimp tempura for $24.95. And if you’re a senior citizen, there’s even better value: The opakapaka and shrimp tempura (along with tossed salad, gyoza, rice, tofu, miso soup and tea) is just $10.95.

“The location helps us keep our prices low,“says Elsie,“and our customers know that we have good quality every day.”

Hifumi’s Elsie Ching: ‘We have the biggest shrimp of any restaurant’

Hifumi Japanese Restaurant
Chinese Cultural Plaza
100 N. Beretania St.

Open Monday-Saturday
Lunch: 11 a.m.-2. p.m.
Dinner: 5-8:30 p.m.
Dinner: Friday and Saturday 5-9 p.m.


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