Saturday Lunch at Asahi Grill

This past Saturday me, my girlfriend and a couple friends of ours wanted to have lunch at California Rock ‘N Sushi, but having not checked the hours online or calling ahead, we were disappointed upon arriving there to discover they were CLOSED! What the heck? How can a restaurant be closed for lunch on the weekend?! My gang, save for me, all work in the food and beverage industry and  don’t understand that, but whatevahz. There’s certainly plenty other fish in the restaurant sea that we were more than happy to give our business to.

So we ended up a block up Ward Avenue across the street over at Asahi Grill, a.k.a. Kapiolani Coffee Shop. Asahi Grill is a casual, affordable, family-friendly, localized Japanese restaurant open for breakfast lunch and dinner. Think of it as a diner with an asian twist and that’s pretty much what you’ll find here (Triple D oughta’ pay them a visit next time).

Getting right to it, the Pork Chops hit home with childhood memories for Diner J, so he decided on giving that a spin…

Asahi Grill – Two Pork Chops with two scoops rice and one scoop mac’ salad. $8.75

Hey, why not? When you’re gonna’ have comfort food, have it right and go all the way. Therefore, accompanying his Pork Chops was a side of fries…

With so much to choose on the menu, Diner CV becamed stumped on what to choose and ultimately played it safe, ordering the small bowl of Kapiolani Coffee Shop’s signature dish, the Oxtail Soup…

Asahi Grill – Small Oxtail Soup (includes side of rice) $10.50

Thinking just soup might not be enough, Diner CV also ordered a Teriyaki burger and fries to go along with it…

Asahi Grill – Teriyaki Burger & Fries. $5.00

See, we’re here for comfort food, not Jenny Craig. lol

My girlfriend Diner EDC chose what I would have chosen, had I not chose what I chose, which is the Grilled Salmon and Shrimp Tempura Combo…

Asahi Grill – Grilled Salmon and Shrimp Tempura combo (includes miso soup). $14.95

The included Miso Soup (with somen noodles in it) and Tentsuyu (Tempura dipping sauce)…

Asahi Grill – Miso Soup (with somen noodles) and Tentsuyu (included with Japanese lunch and dinner entrees)

Finally, continuing my ramen and saimin kick, on this visit yours truly decided to try their Oxtail Ramen, which was actually more like Oxtail Saimin…

Asahi Grill – Oxtail Ramen (actually more like Oxtail Saimin) $8.95

Let’s have a closer look at my Oxtail Saimin, which is what I’m going to call it from now on…

Plenty of Chinese Parsley and Green Onion, which is always nice and certainly brings plenty of added flavor and texture to the party. The server tells me the broth is the same broth as their famous Oxtail Soup, so I’m down with that. Let’s try it…

Well this definitely ain’t no Japanese ramen broth, nor is it local style samin broth. It is what is, which is Oxtail soup broth, and a mighty fine one at that. I still say The Alley Restaurant in Aiea Bowl and Pho Bistro 2 s-s-s-slightly makes a better Oxtail Soup, but KCC’s is certainly up there in the top three. What makes this saimin is the noodles added in it…

As seems to be the case at most restaurants on Oahu, Sun Noodle is the supplier here, which in this case as confirmed by my server aren’t ramen noodles, but saimin noodles. And they were cooked perfectly, not being “saimin-soggy” at all, but still retaining good chew to it. And there’s no question Sun Noodle has the right recipe when it comes to flavor.

What’s nice is these saimin noodles actually compliment the oxtail soup and don’t detract from it. The broth is too mild to flavor the noodles, but if you slurp noodles and sip broth consecutively, they both taste really ono together. I’m diggin’ this bowl of Oxtail Saimin. It works. In fact, it works even better than the one at New Violet’s Grill, thanks to KCC’s far superior Oxtail Soup it’s based on.

Let’s try some oxtail…

You know what comes next, right? Oh yeah, dip ‘dat buggah in da’ grated gingah and shoyu sauce…

Notice a piece of meat pulled right off that bone. Also notice soft, melting marrow in the center of the bone. That’s flavor town right there, baby. Add to that the powerful, piercing flavor of the fresh grated ginger and shoyu that really brings out the beef and you have flavor CITY my friends! So broke da’ mout’ ono, I’m drooling just writing about it here.

And I thought since the Oxtail Saimin is considerably cheaper at $8.95 than the Oxtail Soup ($10.50 small and $12.95 regular) that they would skimp on Oxtails, but was happy to discover they included 5 oxtails in it. Five! Check out this giant piece…

You know you want that. I sure do, again. Someone needs to can or package frozen Oxtail Soup so folks like me can buy some for having any time of day.

Summing it up, Kapiolani Coffee Shop’s (c/o Asahi Grill) Oxtail Saimin was fantastic and priced right, easily deserving 4 SPAM Musubi. Highly recommended. Would I call it the best saimin on the island? No I wouldn’t. But I would call it one of the best Oxtail soups on the island that happens to have excellent saimin noodles in it.

As for the pork chops, oxtail soup, teriyaki burger, fries and shrimp tempura ‘n grilled salmon combo’, everyone was very satisfied with their food, giving an overall 4 SPAM Musubi on every dish, except the Teriyaki burger, which gets a 3. I got to try a slice of Diner J’s pork chops and thought that was fantastic. Simply pan-fried with just salt and pepper, yet it was very tasty and tender. Dip ’em in ketchup, ’nuff. Ono just like that.

Service was also quick and friendly, with our entire order arriving within 10 minutes of being placed and water glasses kept topped throughout the meal. The only challenge was parking, as their small lot was full when we arrived around 2pm, so we ended parking down the street and walking up.

Asahi Grill
515 Ward Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii

Tel. (808) 593-2800

Business Hours:
Monday – Friday 6:30am to 10:00pm
Saturday 6:30am to 11:00pm
Sunday 6:30am to 10:00pm

Breakfast Menu
Lunch Menu
Kapiolani Coffee Shop Specialties Menu

The Tasty Island rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase.

Related links:
Oxtail Soup at Asahi Grill – The Tasty Island
Asahi Grill – Yelp user reviews


9 thoughts on “Saturday Lunch at Asahi Grill

  1. Nate, actually he cut that burger into quarters and shared it with us. We barely touched the fries, as we already had a whole side order of the stuff that we couldn’t finish. He was expecting the burger to come by itself, not with fries on the plate.

  2. I’m actually shocked you gave them an excellent rating. I work not more than 2 blocks from them and can only enjoy the over priced hamburger steak now’a days…which was almost 6 months ago due to terrible service. Either they knew you were coming or they have a new crew. But every time, in the past, I’ve always gotten bad service there. And most of the food tasting quite bland. “Really” wish they kept the staff  and flavors when they FIRST opened.

  3. Pomai, Kapoilani Coffee Shop brings back good memories.  Saw many a bowl of Ox Tail soup be eaten when it was located in the middle of Aloha Motors.  My favorite was the Mahi Mahi flat grilled with Soy Sauce and maybe Seasame Seed Oil all I know it was the best and still is the best Mahi I have ever eaten. It as the place to be on Saturday for lunch.  John

  4. Raph’ and Marcus, just writing about had me wanting more!

    John, wow, I did not know that Kapiolani Coffee Shop was formerly where Aloha Motors was (now the Hawaii Convention Center).  Obviously that’s where they got their name. So I take it after that, they moved to Kamehameha Bowl on School Street.

    Kelly, right on sistah. lol

    Turner, sounds like an isolated incident. You should go back and try it again. I’ve been to Asahi Grill a number of times and haven’t had one incident of terrible service or bad food. All good.

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