Home » Blog » There’s a New Japanese Food Hall Inside This Waikīkī Grocery Store
Asia East Asia Featured Food & Drinks Global News Japan News

There’s a New Japanese Food Hall Inside This Waikīkī Grocery Store

When it opened in 2016, the grocery store food court was home to Hokkaido Santouka Ramen, MoDo Hawai‘i mochi donuts, Itoen Matcha Love and Iyasume Musubi. In recent years, Mitsuwa by turns closed off the dine-in area, switched up vendors and hosted pop-up restaurants. The Hokkaido Ramen Festival, its last pop-up series, ended in July, and The Japan food hall debuted in August.

Tempura Endo

A chain with over 100 years of history, Endo claims to bring a refined Kyoto-style touch to tempura. Lighter batter, crisp vegetables and the addition of chikuwa fishcakes and chicken make Endo a good choice if you’re seeking a lighter meal. Teishoku and donburi are available but come at a steeper price that’s more in line with higher-end tempura counters.

Tempura bowl set at the japan food hall

Tokusei Shrimp Tendon. Photo: Thomas Obungen

The $25 Tokusei Tendon, the special shrimp tempura donburi, comes with red miso soup, tsukemono and a tiny bowl of salad greens. The tendon sauce is a highlight, but the pieces of tempura are on the petite side.

Open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday to Sunday (closed Monday and Thursday), 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., @tempura_endo_waikiki2

Ramen Taig

Taiga is the sister shop of Jyosui Ramen, a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant in Nagoya with an outpost in Torrance, Calif. At The Japan food hall, Taiga’s specialties include shio, shoyu, miso and tantan ramen bowls with a few variations. The broth incorporates a mix of pork, chicken and fish to achieve a balanced, savory stock that’s luscious yet weightless on the palate. There’s also a plant-based shoyu ramen with tofu and bamboo shoots.

The Japan Foodhall Ramen Taiga Tantan Men Credit Thomas Obungen 11

Tantan men and chicken karaage. Photo: Thomas Obungen

The tantan men ($15) starts with the original stock and is fortified with sesame paste, diced onions, sweet pork miso and house-made rayu chile oil. From the first bite, I can tell this is one of the better tantan men on O‘ahu. It’s Japanese spicy, which is tame, but you can punch it up with more rayu. The meaty chicken karaage ($8) is also worth getting to share. I don’t recall seeing another plate of karaage with pieces of chicken as large as these.

Carp Dori

Still one of my favorite spots for yakitori and motsunabe, Carp Dori opened this second Hawai‘i branch in the middle of August. The official yakitori of the Hiroshima Taiyo Carp baseball team, Carp Dori’s menu seems to be much the same as what you can get at McCully Shopping Center.

The Japan Foodhall Carp Dori Credit Thomas Obungen

They offer samplers of yakitori and kushikatsu skewers, but I normally stick to my favorites: tsukune cheese, bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms, pork shiso rolls, negima and chicken skin. Prices are reasonable, between $2 and $4 a stick, plus it’s open for lunch, unlike most yakitori restaurants.

Open Wednesday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

japanese food counters at the japan food hall

Uni Kura

A sea urchin and marinated salmon roe specialist, Uni Kura has three menu items: an uni bowl, an ikura bowl and a combo uni and ikura bowl, all available in small, medium or large quantities. The products are all imported fresh from Hokkaido.

Wagyu Cocoroe

Menchikatsu at cocoroe in the japan food hall

Cocoroe specializes in Himeji wagyu: a premium $45 bento and menchikatsu for $6.49 apiece. It’s not especially juicy or fatty like the ones I’ve had in Japan, but it is an affordable wagyu indulgence.

Omusubi Fujimaru

A musubi shop with 19 options, from tsukimi soy-marinated egg yolk to spicy pork, mentaiko and Spam. Prices range from $2.99 to $4.99 for a single musubi, making them some of the more expensive options around. Fujimaru uses premium Tsuyahime rice from Japan, prized for its plump grains, silky texture and delicious flavor.

Open Wednesday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Of the five or so food courts in Waikīkī, The Japan is the smallest, but its focus on quality options with strong pedigrees makes it a worthy dining destination in the tourist district. If the food prices here weren’t enough of a shock, the minimum spend for validation at International Market Place just went up to $25 on Sept. 1. At least that’s still discounted or free.

Source : Honolulu Magazine