Ala Moana Eats: Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar

Well OK, Shokudo isn’t exactly IN Ala Moana (shopping) Center, yet right along its flanks at the ground floor of the Ala Moana Pacific Center (a business high rise building) on the makai-Ewa (south-west) corner of Kaheka Street and Kapiolani Boulevard, with neighboring restaurant Angelo Pietro.

They’ve been around for years now, having won many accolades, including the Honolulu Magazine’s Hale Aina Award in 2006 and 2007, yet this was a first time visit for three of five in our party, including yours truly.

Speaking of party, we were here on this Aloha Friday lunch time visit in celebration of Diner A’s belated birthday.Woo hoo!

As always, first let’s case the joint…

Those two separate dining room areas shown above are divided by the substantially-sized bar that is the centerpiece of the restaurant…

Without further ado, let’s check out Shokudo’s current menu (as of 10.22.10), which is the same for both lunch and dinner…

Shokudo’s Lunch Bento Box specials, available until 4pm daily…

The Chef’s Recommendations…

Shokudo’s service on our visit right at their 11:30am opening was practically fast food drive-through quick, with our appetizers arriving at our table seemingly within just a few minutes of being ordered, starting with the Chicken Karaage…

Shokudo – Chicken Karaage served with Homemade Spicy Tartar Sauce. $9.95

The Chicken Karaage “spicy” dipping sauce…

Let’s try it…

Off to a good start, these bite-size morsels of Chicken Karaage were pipin’ hot, super-moist ‘n tender, while the batter that’s post-dipped in a sweetened shoyu-dashi sauce was intricately crispy ‘n “soaky” good. The aioli-like, red pepper-laced dipping sauce was a little odd in combination with it, not being the greatest pairing, yet it worked. 2 SPAM Musubi.

Immediately following this, Shokudo’s Agedashi Tofu landed on the table, with the shaved bonito flakes topping it still curling like tiny slithering snakes, ala Medusa, which turned out being quite amusing…

Shokudo – Agedashi Tofu: Lightly battered and fried tofu served with light soy dashi broth. $7.45

Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner! Such a simple dish, yet so, so oishii! Love it!

Three rather cliche, yet very accurate words immediately come to mind about this tofu: CREAMY-SILKY-SMOOTH.  That essential description, combined with the light soy sauce and savory bonito that melts into it is, well, melt-in-your-mouth DELICIOUS! 5 SPAM Musubi. I seriously could order just a plate of this Tofu and call it a day.

Shokudo – Yukari French Fries: Fried shoestring potatoes sprinkled with Shiso salt seasoning. $4.45

While the name “Yukari French Fries” and concept of Shiso Salt may sound exotic, in reality they tasted pretty much like your standard McDonald’s French Fries. Which isn’t a bad thing, as I myself believe McDonald’s French Fries totally rock.Diner E claimed the Shiso Salt added an “ume” element to the flavor profile, but I didn’t get that. Diner A chimed in, asking whether it would be a sin to ask for ketchup here. Good gracious, next thing we know, we’ll be seeing Tater Tot Sushi! lol

Wait, “Tater Tot Sushi” you say? Well kinda’, yeah! Specifically in the form of the final part of our fantastic appetizer spread, Shokudo’s Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice…

Shokudo – Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice: Crispy sushi rice topped with spicy raw tuna and jalapeno. $12.45

Another fantastic dish. A deep-fried Nigiri sushi is simply brilliant. Then you  have that golden-fried flavor and texture of the rice being topped with very-tasting, finely minced raw Ahi in a spicy mayo sauce, with the home run being hit by the thin slice of Jalapeno pepper and BAM!

4 SPAM Musubi on Shokudo’s Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice. This is definitely a must-try for anyone a fan of spicy ahi.

Just as we were at the point of finishing off our wonderful spread of appetizers, our server (and kitchen staff) was on it, with our entrees immediately arriving thereafter, beginning with Diner E’s Combination Bento Lunch Box..

Shokudo – Combination Lunch Box: Teriyaki Chicken, Assorted Tempura, Edamame, Salad, Rice & Miso Soup. $13.95

Angle B-1-A.859-AB (lol)…

Not close enough? K-den, here’s angle C-2.621.9 BZ…

Under that light, delicate and crispy tempura batter are the usual suspects, including 2 medium-sized shrimp tails, Japanese cucumber and purple sweet potato.

Continuing to eat up my camera’s flash card memory, soon thereafter precious hard drive space, and ultimately thereafter your internet bandwidth usage viewing this web page, angle D of the Teriyaki Chicken…

Here Diner E shows off the rather generous helpings of cubed tofu in the included side of Miso Soup…

He also noted the miso soup broth was right on point, being neither too strong nor weak, with enough “bottom” to it.

The Bento Lunch also includes this here tossed green salad…

The verdict? Overall Diner E gives Shokudo’s Combination Bento Lunch Box a solid 3 SPAM Musubi of approval. Oishii, and very filling, he also noted, where he could barely finish the last Tempura. Especially after indulging in the apps we ordered.

Next we have Diner AA’s choice (formerly known as Diner AC), the Garlic Shrimp Rice Ishiyaki hot pot…

Shokudo – Ishiyaki Garlic Shrimp Rice: Local favorite garlic shrimp comes with rice and mixed in sizzling hot 500 degree F. stone pot. $12.45

This actually arrives with just the garlic shrimp in the sizzling hot stone pot, where the server adds and mixes in the white rice tableside…

This is where we need “Smell-O-Vision to really do this dish justice, if you know what I mean. The sizzling hot stone pot fries the rice, giving it a nice and toasty flavor and texture. The stone pot retains plenty of heat and it continues to toast-cook the rice for about least 10 minutes right in front of you. Nice.

Diner AA shared some with me and I thought it was absolutely delicious. You could really taste the garlic and shrimp, but of course the best part was the toasty flavor and texture of the rice, along with what tasted like a little shoyu in there. Solid 3 SPAM Musubi on Shokudo’s Garlic Shrimp Ishiyaki.

Then we have Diner C’s dish, or make that bowl of Shokudo’s Spicy Miso Ramen…

That’s the only shot I got of it, yet I’ll just say Diner C really enjoyed the spicy miso broth, and noted that the ramen noodles were cooked to al dente perfection. 3 SPAM Musubi. And who would’ve thought of coming to Shokudo for ramen? Well they’ve got some and it’s respectably good!

In fact, I too also decided to give Shokudo’s take on ramen a shot (I’m back on my ramen kick folks!), where I went for their take on the venerable local favorite, Oxtail…

Shokudo – Oxtail Ramen. $9.95

Oh yes, finely grated ginger and shoyu, or as I like to call it, “God’s Dipping Sauce”.  Such a simple concoction, yet I swear, it could probably make vanilla or chocolate ice cream taste even better than it already is. Well OK, maybe not ice cream, but you get the idea. In fact, I started using grated ginger and shoyu as a dipping sauce for my home-made sauteed ribeye steak, and I tell ya’, it’s a winner! Gives my former favorite A1 Steak Sauce a run for the money!

Time to take inventory. Inventory? On what? Oxtails of course! As in how many are included in the bowl and how big each on is, starting with this one…

Small Oxtail part #808-1, check.

Large Oxtail part #808-2, check.

And that’s it. Yet you know what? That was PERFECT. After all was said and done and I finished the entire bowl of ramen (and I did finish it right down to the last drop), it was just the right amount of meat to compliment the ramen noodles and broth without overpowering it. In other words, it still tasted like Japanese Ramen, not Oxtail Soup, which is a GOOD thing in this case.

That said, best of all was the BROTH. Fantastic. There was just an ever so slight flavor accent from the beefy oxtails, yet it also had hints of chicken stock for added dimension. Rounding it out was the Beni Shoga (pickled ginger), which as you might imagine if you’re a foodie fan of the stuff, know Beni Shoga totally compliments any meat or fish dish, where in this case are the oxtails. On top of that, anytime you have chicken broth that’s laced heavily with ginger, it’s always a winner as well (think Chicken Long Rice), and this Oxtail Ramen broth was a shining example of that fantastic marriage of flavors.

If there’s anything I’d complain about, is that the Oxtails in and of themselves tasted like they were boiled and simmered in plain water without any seasoning, so they were actually kinda’ boring when fished out of the broth and eaten as is. Also, being kinda’ “dried out”, they didn’t even absorb much of the flavor of the excellent broth.

Of course, once it hit the shoyu and grated ginger, a.k.a. “God’s Dipping Sauce”, the world begins to turn once again and all is great for these Ramen-blessed Oxtails…

Roll her in the sauce…

Ah, that’s much, much better. See, this is the kind of eating “moment” where you just close your eyes, take a bite, and realize how good life is. Seriously.

But seriously again, to nitpick, I’d also complain that these Oxtails could have used a few more hours in the pot to tenderize them more. While I don’t want the meat fibers too “loose” like pulled pork, these were practically on the verge of being tough, with a notable sinew quality about it.

As it stands, the broth in this Oxtail Ramen pretty much ROCKED, while the Oxtails themselves needed just a little more TLC, at least in this particular bowl I received on this visit.

Overall, I give Shokudo’s Oxtail Ramen a solid 3 SPAM Musubi. The broth was absolutely superb, as were the noodles. Work on the Oxtails as noted above, and perhaps add some Menma in there and this could be an award-winning 5-SPAM Musubi bowl of ramen by Honolulu standards (which isn’t saying much compared to Japan, but hey, gotta’ try!).

Last but of course not least, we have birthday boy Diner A’s dish, the Chef’s Recommendation Seafood Crispy Noodle…

Shokudo – Chef’s Recommendation Seafood  Crispy Noodle: Crispy noodle with assorted seafood and vegetables in a savory gravy. $12.95

Angle B…

The verdict? Diner A enjoyed the flavor profile of the “savory gravy” and the seafood and vegetables were cooked perfectly, yet he wasn’t so fond of the crispy noodles, finding it TOO crispy. Like the kind you would add to an Oriental Chicken Salad for crunch. Which as you could imagine, works great as a texture accent to a salad, but wouldn’t be ideal if that were the predominant starch in your dish. I mean, these noodles were cracker-crispy. Then again, the description does say Seafood Crispy Noodle, so I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Still, with that, he gives this dish 1 SPAM Musubi.

Bringing redemption for our guest of honor, Diner A, Shokudo provided a complimentary Happy Birthday dish of their famous Honey Toast…

Shokudo – Honey Toast with Chocolate (compliments of the house for the birthday guest)

Here it is deconstructed…

Let’s try this…

Oh man, this stuff is really ono! The flavor and texture of of the toasted Japanese style bread is PERFECT, where you can really taste the flavor of the honey that seems to be caramelized on the crust from either the baking or post-toasting process.

The complimentary birthday Honey Toast includes just one toast, while the regular menu order of Honey Toast includes two…

Shokudo – Honey Toast. $7.45

To illustrate just how thick these slices of toast are and overall how big the portion is, here’s the regular menu order in scale compared to an iPhone…

Yes, each toast is about as thick as an iPhone is wide. So this is certainly a dessert that can adequately be shared on the table.

Here this one is deconstructed, where you can see they basically toast this thick slice of honey-flavored Japanese style bread, then cut out the center part, cut it in cubes and put it back in, add a scoop of ice cream, then drizzle it with more honey, or you can opt to add chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, strawberry puree, sweet red bean (Azuki) or Oreo Cookie & Cream for $1 more. BRIL-LI-ANT! I tell you them Japanese so smart!

Our only complaint is that they don’t give enough vanilla ice cream, where the ratio of ice cream-to-honey toast is off.

The verdict? 4 SPAM Musubi on Shokudo’s Honey Toast Bread. Give more vanilla ice cream (and perhaps offer other ice cream flavor options, such as Roselani’s Haupia!) and this will certainly be 5-SPAM Musubi certified. Still do not leave Shokudo without ordering their Honey Toast. Oishii to da’ max! Highly recommended!

Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar
Ala Moana Pacific Center
1585 Kapiolani Boulevard, Suite 814
Honolulu, Hawaii  96814

Tel. (808) 941-3701

*Free parking in building with validation.

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Related links:
Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar – Yelp user reviews


16 thoughts on “Ala Moana Eats: Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar

  1. Pomai, great photos of food that how you sold many people in heading there now at my work. That toast desserts got started in Hong Kong years ago it a rage now in many places.

  2. Thank you for continuing with the detailed menu shots, they are really helpful.

    It’s only breakfast time, but I could totally go for some of those karaage and spicy nigiri right now. I wouldn’t turn down a taste of the garlic shrimp rice either (good thing I have a toothbrush here at work).

  3. I would have been happy with an order each of agedashi tofu & the “tater tot sushi” as you call it. I like that Shokudo regularly revises its menu to add new items so you always have something new to try.

    (Psst! Any chance of a new “Tasty Island” themed Halloween costume this year? How about going as a giant lau lau wrapped in ti leaves. Or a giant spam musubi? I’m crossing my fingers on this!”)

  4. OMG i love shokudo! and yes they dont give enough ice cream… maybe one more scoop would be sufficient 😉 um when i went we tried the lobster dynamite… SOO ONO!

  5. OMG! I was visiting relatives and we ate lunch at Shokudo that very same day. For many of us in the party, it was our first time eating there. We had a number of the same dishes, including the tasty “honey toast” dessert. It’s one place I’m looking forward to trying again. There’s nothing like this in California!

  6. Pomai, that rice pot dish must Kamameshi style (Japanese Rice Cassarole). I make it some time at home and is great with a Japanese rice pot for it but not really needed.

    That grill rice sushi is so special and people should head there to try it. The toast dessert is something my sisters had in Hong Kong and there many different ways of making it. That rice cassarole is also served in Taiwan Japanese style restaurants too.

  7. There is another upscale Japanese restaurant in Waikiki called Yoshitsume at 2586 Kalakaua Ave. They also serve Kamameshi style rice cassarole. Rokkako at Ala Moana Center also.

  8. Pomai, my wrong. This is Ishiyaki rice cooking in iron pot. I need to get one later for it. I have a pot for Kamameshi cooking. I like their menu with lot of photos it sell the food so much better.

  9. I first saw Shokudo when I went to lunch at Angelo Pietro. I remember being very impressed by those dramatic wooden “curtains”. I still think it’s a really handsome space, which looks like it could house a much more exclusive (i.e., expensive) restaurant.

    The food is good, but you can get the same elsewhere. (Although, I have to say, that tofu looks like something I’d like to try … now, if possible!) What I do love there, though, is the honey toast sundae. I mean l-o-v-e. LOVE! It is huge, though — three of us couldn’t finish it. Too bad that birthday size isn’t available on the regular menu; it would be worth going over on my own for lunch if it was. We would order it with the chocolate sauce. Spear a cube of warm, buttered toast topped with a little chocolate, and you don’t notice a lack of ice cream so much!

    I used to visit a coffee shop in Tokyo where the breakfast “toast” was a hunk of buttered shokupan the same size as those above. I’d have to eat it with a knife and fork. That, and a big latte, and I was in heaven! Unfortunately, they remodeled the restaurant and changed the menu. Oh, how sad I was! : (

  10. Thank you for confirming that this is the place friends took us to last year. I tried to describe the “office building with the crispy rice in a pot” dish to them, but they didn’t know what I was talking about. When we were in Hawaii last week, I saw this place on the way to Don Quijote but wasn’t sure if it was it. Now I know and can go back next time we are in your great city.

  11. Glad you liked Shokudo! I actually work there! There was a phase where I couldn’t stop eating their food, especially the honey toast, which is simple yet amazing.

    We actually started a new seasonal (Chef’s Recommendations) menu this past week, so you should definitely stop by and try some of our new-er dishes!

  12. I like menus that have pictures especially when I dont know what the item is or I will drive the waiter nuts asking whats in everything. Chinese restaurants need to do that.
    This place looks ono..

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