KAIMUKI'S NEWEST IZAKAYA

As a resident of Kaimuki, I constantly find myself trying to keep up with the ever-changing food scene. On one of my recent runs down Waialae, I noticed a new sign where Kona Kai Sushi used to be. This is where Kikue has taken over. The Japanese izakaya offers up a stellar sake menu and slightly more upscale dining options than your typical bar but with a comfortable, cruise vibe. I showed up in leggings, sweaty from a long day of work, wearing my 8-month-old, and somehow didn’t feel underdressed. Though I may not have looked the part, I was still on the hunt for some top-notch grinds and cold drinks; thankfully, Kikue has just that.

Kikue

IZAKAYA = SAKE + GRINDS

Half the izakaya experience is having the right drinks to go with your food. We ordered a round of ice-cold beers and perused the sake. The sake menu at Kikue is extensive and detailed, giving both descriptions and acidity levels so you can pick one that fits your tastes. They also offer a sake sampler for $12; $15 if you choose from the slightly nicer list. I went with the A-list sampler and was pleasantly surprised at how well the sakes were explained on the menu; all 3 were perfect to sip while snacking on bar fare. Banzai!

Kikue
Sake Sampler ($15) the cups are so pretty!

THE GRINDS

Kikue
Chicken Karaage ($9.50)

Who doesn’t love fried chicken? Chicken karaage is one of those go-to orders when you’re at the bar. This chicken came out hot and juicy! It was the first thing they brought to the table and it was a prime way to start the meal and sate our growling bellies.

Kikue
Skewered deep-fried pork belly ($15)

This skewered deep-fried pork belly was like a giant tonkatsu on a stick, topped with a slaw of sorts and dollops of their yuzu pepper sauce. The sauce going a long way, adding a nice kick. Our pork was juicy and flavorful, this was an easy dish to keep eating.

Kikue
Duck Foie Gras Teriyaki with sushi rice, temaki style ($24.50)

I am a huge fan of foie. It’s a menu item I am always willing to splurge on and rarely share. However, I was not impressed by this dish. The foie itself is seared with teriyaki sauce and served with nori, truffle sushi rice, wasabi, and yuzu pepper sauce, so you can build your own roll. I found all of those flavors overpowered the natural, delicious fatty flavors that make foie what it is. That truffle sushi rice, on the other hand, was the actual bomb and was the one pairing I felt worked.

Kikue
Aburi Wagyu (grilled wagyu with binchotan charcoal, $26.50)

Wagyu is always a good choice and this was no different. While definitely was not the prettiest looking on the plate, it melted in my mouth like butter on a hot griddle. It’s served with mushroom, fingerling potato, roasted tomatoes, lime, salt, and a warm dipping sauce. I felt like the salt and lime were the only necessary accompaniments, helping to illuminate the flavors of the marbled meat.

Kikue
Ootoro Aburi ($24)

This torched fatty tuna was everything. Simple. Fresh. Perfection. The ootoro at Kikue is lightly seared, giving the fish a grilled flavor but keeping it raw. Dipped in shoyu and wasabi, it’s a lovely bite and kind of a nice palate cleanser amongst all the other rich foods.

Kikue
Dashimaki Tamago with truffle add-on ($15)

Talk about an upgrade on a basic dish! This was hands down one of my favorites. This Japanese style egg omelet has dashi dripping out of it and was covered in truffles. So much umami! You can order it without the truffle for $9.50 but hey, why not treat yourself. This dish is a total steal for the price; I would order it again and again.

Kikue
Duck Soba ($15)

When I heard the chef makes soba fresh in house, I was excited to try. I’m all for authenticity. We went with the duck soba. The noodles are 100% buckwheat which have a slight toothiness to their chew but as someone who grew up on al dente pasta, I personally enjoyed them. The broth was rich, full of duck flavor. The pieces of duck themselves were larger than expected and quite tender. This dish was also easily big enough to share.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I genuinely enjoyed my evening here. While some of the price points are high (I probably wouldn’t order the foie again], there’s a good amount of shareable options here without breaking the bank. I think Kaimuki has a lot of really amazing restaurants opening up and Kikue is a nice change of pace. I will most definitely be back, if just for more truffle tamago. #notsharing

Kikue
3579 Waialae Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816
Ph: 808-376-8576


Brigitte Schell
Brigitte Schell

Brigitte’s been a foodie since birth; her palate has just vastly improved. Originally from New York, Yelp connected Brigitte with the local food community & she has been eating, writing & photographing her way through the island since. A little classy, always sassy; you can never forget-a Brigitte!

All author posts

Other Posts You'll Love...

Privacy Preference Center