My parents are always looking for that great little Japanese restaurant, the one with a friendly staff, lots of parking, great food and — this will sound weird, but it's true — a place that no one goes to. (They don't like crowds.)
So I'm not sure how they feel about the fact that I'm always blogging about their favorite "secret" spots.
Anyway, they've been talking about a relatively new izakaya on Ke'eaumoku Street, run by the owner of Komokata, a great little Japanese restaurant that used to be in the 'Aina Haina Shopping Center. (It's now a Genki Sushi.)
Hazuki, which is located next to Champions — same owner — and in the spot vacated by Easy Music Center, opened last year in an area buzzing with new eateries.
From the outside, Hazuki looks like a Japanese tavern.
But inside, it's a warm family-style restaurant complete with a sushi bar.
During lunch on a recent weekday, the place was packed. While we still found a seat, we did have to go when the restaurant opened — at 11 a.m. It filled up quickly.
There's a variety of people who call Hazuki their favorite lunch spot, including construction workers, aloha shirt-clad businesses, families and groups of ladies out in their lunch best.
Like at Komokata, Hazuki serves up chanko nabe ($20 per person), shabu shabu (my favorite!) and other hot pots, along with an extensive menu of izakaya fare, sushi and teishoku meals.
Here's what we ate:
Most of the meals at lunch came with miso soup, filled with tofu and wakame.
I ordered combination lunch box ($12.50), choosing beef teriyaki and chicken katsu.
The panko breading on the katsu was great: light and crunchy.
The teri beef was sliced thicker than I had anticipated. Still, the flavor was nice. I tend to like my teriyaki on the sweeter side.
My dad also got the combination box lunch, but chose tempura instead.
The batter is light and the variety of tempura offerings was great for the price.
The teishoku meals come with a variety of greens, including a salad and Japanese-style pickled vegetables.
I'm a sucker for salads at Japanese restaurants. The dressings are always so good. This is no exception: the dressing has a vinegar-y, citrus-y taste.
My mom loves saba, so she tried the yaki sakana ($9.95), which you can get either saba or salmon.
She enjoyed the side dish that came with her meal, a small offering of okara.
She really liked the saba, which isn't my favorite fish. It was well prepared and — a common complaint about this fish — not too fishy.
On the side, she ordered two nigiri for my sister, who was at home. Here's the ikura nigiri ($6 for two pieces).
And this is the salmon nigiri ($4 for two pieces).
Hazuki is more restaurant than izakaya — at least at lunch — and the menu boasts how it can be the best of both. Lots of variety — from sushi to teishoku — to satisfy any Japanese cuisine craving.
Next time, though, I'm getting the nabe. I gotta see what that's all about!
Hazuki Izakaya, 1108 Keeaumoku St. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Phone: 596-8883.
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