Last night was my monthly dinner with my girlfriends from college. It’s been a number of years since we graduated together, but we still get together once a month to dish about what’s going on in our lives. We usually try to pick a new restaurant each time (unless it’s someone’s birthday month, in which case they get to pick any restaurant of their choice).
Most of us had never been to Kochi before, so we agreed to meet there on Saturday night. I drive by the restaurant all the time and have heard of it from friends, so I was excited to try it for myself. The family that owns Kochi Restaurant and Lounge also owns the successful okazuya Gulick Delicatessen (original location on Gulick Avenue in Kalihi and second location on South King Street next to Kochi). When you enter the “restaurant and lounge”, there’s the lounge on the left hand side with a bar, high top tables and lounge seating, and the dining room is straight ahead. Usually the girls and I skip cocktails and go right into dinner, so they saved a table in the dining room side while I rushed over from work. (They’re sweet and so supportive of my blog that they even took photos of the food before I arrived!)
The menu is filled with casual and hearty local Japanese food. The appetizers and entrees are best shared, both in terms of size and pricing but if you prefer not to, they have 2 great options:
- set menus that come with your choice of 2 or 3 entrees, rice, miso soup, salad and dessert
- or they offer smaller portions for smaller prices for many of the entrees
They also have a great selection of super affordable side dishes to complete your meal like miso soup ($1.95), mac salad ($1.95), and various musubis ($1.95 each) which is very okazuya style.
I should also mention they have awesome deals during happy hour (before 7:00pm) with deeply discounted prices on many of the pupus and entrees.
- Edamame: Seasoned with a sesame-garlic-teriyaki-style sauce. Tasty, but too sweet for me.
- Agedashi Tofu ($5.95): generous portions of deep fried tofu, served with grated daikon, ginger, and dashi broth
- Popcorn Tako: Deep fried tako. Best with nothing but a squeeze of lemon
- Deep Fried Hash Balls ($7.95): These are like croquettes, but in the shape of little balls and served with cheese sauce. Personally, I don’t think the cheese sauce works.
- Assorted Musubis ($4.50): Includes 3 generously sized musubis (umeboshi, shiso and furikake)
- Kochi Roll ($8.95): Mahi, salmon and crab fried crispy tempura style then wrapped in a layer of sushi rice and nori
- Miso Soup ($1.95)
- Mac Salad ($1.95)
One of the girls had the Set Menu ($17.95) with Chicken Katsu and Tempura.
Overall, the service was quick and friendly (unlike some negative reviews I’ve read). The food was good but nothing special to be honest. The deep fried items were served lukewarm and I found there to be nothing especially creative in the flavor combinations. To clarify, everything I had tasted good, the portions were generous and I’m really glad I got to experience Kochi. But during these times when we scrutinize every expense (especially luxury expenses like dining out), why would you spend your money on “good” when the restaurant down the street has “better” for the same price? For similar food, I prefer Sushi King on S. King Street for sushi and teishoku or Kampai on Ward Avenue for pupus and steaks.
PRICE RANGE: Sorry, forgot to write this down
MY BILL: $25.00
RETURNING?: I’d probably go to the Gulick Delicatessen instead of Kochi.
Kochi Restaurant and Lounge
1936 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96826
Late Night Pupus 10:00p-2:00a