If you haven't figured it out by now, I have a thing for Japanese restaurants, and an even bigger thing for Japanese Izakayas. Thanks to my friends Amanda and Brandon, I've been introduced to another great find! Imanas Tei is located on King Street, past Pucks Alley, slightly hidden behind the 7-11. Take a little peak the next time you drive by, and you can't miss the bright orange sign.
Imanas Tei has been recognized by several notable local publications for having quality sashimi selections and excellent authentic Japanese food. Word spreads when the food is good, and as a result, you should be prepared to wait for a table if you don't make a reservation. We waited for about an hour... but it was well worth it!
We went to Imanas Tei specifically to eat the Chanko Nabe; but I wasn't about to leave this restaurant without trying at least one other dish! So, we shared an order of sushi; 8 pieces of nigiri and 6 pieces of tekka maki. The nigiri selection included unagi, maguro (ahi), hamachi, sake (salmon), ebi (shrimp), ikura (fish eggs), and uni (sea urchin). I don't usually like uni; however I chose to be the daring one this time and ate it. It was actually delicious, which was a sign of its freshness! Based on that, you can guess how good the others were!
So highlight of our dinner was Chanko Nabe. During the winter time in Japan, families come together to enjoy a big "nabe" (or pot) filled with assorted meats and vegetables.
A nabe was brought to our table and filled with dashi (flavored broth), and then the server came and filled it with crab legs, scallop, shrimp, salmon, tofu, mushrooms, cabbage, mochi, green onions, mussels, beef, tsukune (meat balls)...and probably more things that I can't remember.
After everything simmered down and cooked, we took turns fishing out our favorites and slurping up the broth.
Once everything was eaten and the broth was left over, we were given to option of adding udon noodles or rice and egg. We chose the rice and egg, so the server returned and filled our pot with rice and drizzled in some egg.
He served it to us in little bowls and topped it off with nori. One slurp of this steaming hot broth took me back to my childhood days when my grandma would pick me up from preschool and make me a snack. She scooped out steaming hot rice and topped it off with a raw egg and a drizzle of shoyu. As she mixed it up with her chopsticks, the steam of the rice cooked the eggs, and the chopsticks hit the sides of the bowl, making the sound "ka-cha, ka-cha, ka-cha." And so the name "ka-cha ka-cha rice" came to be... my favorite after school snack. Its so wonderful when eating something takes you back to a fond memory. Its like that scene in Ratatouille when Antono Ego was forever changed after taking a bite of Remy's famous Ratatouille!
Needless to say, we were all happily stuffed at the end of our meal. It was a nice way to celebrate the holidays together, and a super bargain as well! We ordered two orders of the Chanko Nabe and the sushi, and between the 4 of us, we paid only about $13 for dinner! I want to go back and try the other izakaya dishes, but I don't know if I can resist not ordering the chanko nabe again!!
2626 S. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96826