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Lifestyle :: Food :: Oahu Restaurants - And Then Some... :: Kitchen on the Corner

Kitchen on the Corner

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***** Based on 3 member reviews

It's a warm-blooded animal that lays eggs. It's a four-legged creature with a bill, who lives in the water. It's a fur pelt with webbed feet. Are we talking reptile, bird,  mammal, or fish? Just some questions for ya, as it's kinda like figuring out what the Corner Kitchen on Kapahulu Avenue is. But while I can safely say the answer to the first question is a duck-billed platypus, I'm still trying to figure out how to characterize the Corner Kitchen in a single set of words. As of now, I just can't do it. I mean, here we have braised oxtails, whole deep-fried spareribs, poke platters, kalbi, and even shoyu hotdogs! I know - must be a local sports bar thing, right? But wait, there's shrimp tempura, ahi tataki, ika geso, and a full-scale sushi bar with tons of exotic rolls as well as traditional-style nigiri-zushi of the highest order! You mean it's an izakaya/sushi house? Hold on there, trigger. There's also chicken/eggplant parmesan, soft-shelled crab lemon caper pasta, seafood scampi, and even smoked bacon carbonara! What? Italian? But we're just getting started. On any night of the week, specials can consist of NY steak and crab legs, deep-fried chimichanga, beef Wellington, poisson cru, bouillabaisse, shish-kabob, and rack of lamb! My goodness! What kind of kapakahi madness is going-on down at the corner?


Outside Shot
Outside Shot


But we'll get more into the food soon enough, promise. Why, even the location itself carries its possible share of more confusion, as well as its own storied history. For the longest time, the building was an institution on the Hawaii dining scene via Harpo's Pizza, which was replaced just a few years ago by the excellent sushi of chef Ryuji-san and Zenshu. Even back then, I cannot tell you how many folks I knew that refused trying this particular building, thinking parking would be too difficult. Yeah, the connected lot only carries about 5 or 6 stalls, but other locales have always been designated. Currently, there's a pay lot across the street, Hee Hing Plaza ($3 with validation), First Hawaiian Bank after 5pm, and always my favorite, street parking, which I always seem to find.

Open daily from 5pm, the atmosphere is similiar to its former host, Zenshu, with a local sports bar atmosphere complete with flat-screens and the same large, beautiful sushi display/counter off to one side. Live, mostly local-style entertainment from names like Waipuna, Holunape, Hoku Zuttermeister, and Maunalua, is included 5 nights a week from 6:30pm, and if you're looking for a quiet evening, don't come during these times! Gets pretty festive in there, lemme tell ya! But if jumping directly into the mosh pit isn't your idea of fun, a good option is to sit on the bar side of the restaurant, where you can at least hear eachother speak!


What, Getting Loud?
What, Getting Loud?


Bar-Side, for the Old and Boring, like Me!


And here we go with the food, beginning with something I had to try in as much as i wanted to knock that battery off of Robert Conrad's shoulder. I just had to. Smoked bacon carbonara? Get outta here!


Why. Whyyyy???


Just kidding. It was actually very tasty! The classic Italian sauce of frothy egg and cheese goodness was creamy, rich, and full of deep, smoky bacon flavors. However, one thing spoiled the entire dish for me - overcooked pasta. Even from the outset, the penne was soft and wilted, its tubes growing progressively mushier as it sat waiting to be consumed, heating in its own juices. Had the pasta been al dente, a situation I imagine easily corrected, I would have given it a hearty thumb's up!

Moving on, there are several interesting combination platters, seemingly the most popular being a poi dog platter:


Poi Dog Platter
Poi Dog Platter


Beginnng on the top-right, here's a closer shot of that deeply local-through-and-through dish, deep-fried pork spare ribs:


Deep Fried Ribs
Deep-Fried Ribs


Haven't seen this particular dish in other restaurants yet, but it has been on the local radar for some time now, albeit mostly flying low and at venues like backyard parties and catering events. It is usually steamed, boiled, or otherwise cooked, then battered (in this case panko'd) and deep-fried. Though this one was a bit dry and on the tough side for me, I have no doubt that carnivores out there just may enjoy its bold, meaty, in-your-face qualities.

On the top-right was a serving of Cory-en chicken, a play on Kore-an chicken from a guy named Cory (Ok, I'm guessing!):


Cory-en Chicken
Cory-en Chicken


Actually, it was more like karaage chicken than Korean chicken, and it was deep-fried perfectly, with a soft, tender inside and a crispy, crunchy outside. Once again, however, a caveat - very little taste! Could it be that, since local-style dishes so often use bold sauces and seasonings almost to the point of overpowering, that Corner Kitchen is instead trying to be a little more nuanced and a little more sensitive to more quality-based issues, as well as to the clucker itself? Hmmm... Hard to say. Whatever the case, I CAN say that there were no issues whatsoever with our next and final entry on the platter. It was, hands-down, the best thing on the plate, as well as one of the best things I've had on the entire menu!


Boneless Kalbi
Boneless Kalbi


Now, this is what it's all about! The meat itself was soft and tender, and the shoyu/sugar-based marinade wasn't too strong or too weak, but balanced perfectly with the smoky, char-grilled sections. The flavors were simply outstanding. With their popular platter now under my belt, next time, I'll just go with an entire order of kalbi, along with white rice!

And not just any kind of white rice!


Sushi Platter
Sushi Set


True, I may not be able to judge the correct amount of saffron on a bouillabaisse, the coconut milk in a poisson cru, or the ground coriander in a Lebanese shawarma, but I CAN tell you about sushi. And the sushi set above? Outstanding! I mean, plenty of sushi chefs out there can construct a flashy roll and bring in fresh salmon, ahi, and hamachi. But to offer raw ama-ebi, ikura, uni, and quail egg, all with a premium on freshness, and to also know how to prepare and present them correctly? Now, that's something not just anyone can do on a consistent basis. And no wonder. Does anyone remember the old 4 Kings restaurant, that half-Vietnamese, half-Japanese question mark on Waialae Avenue? Yeah, it's now closed, but not for lack of good food. I remember not expecting anything at all, but getting blown away by the precision and work of their sushi chef, who I met for the first time while there. As you've already guessed, he is now executive sushi chef here at the Corner Kitchen, and brings his considerable wealth of experience and knowledge along, acquired from notable places like 4 King's, Doraku, and Tokkuri-tei. Just for fun, check out a few of his past dishes, all from now-closed 4 King's:


Spicy Ahi on Tempura Nori Chip
Spicy Ahi on Tempura Nori Chip, Topped with Avacado and Tobiko


Big-Eye Nigiri
Beautiful Big-Eye Nigiri


Drizzled Hamachi
Drizzled Hamachi with Habanero and Tobiko


Chef Himself, Left, Along with Chef Hiro


No doubt, chef brings it, while the also-talented chef Hiro is quite the character, and can now be found at popular Ojisan's on upper Kapahulu Avenue.

But getting back to our sushi set at Corner Kitchen, wifey never misses an opportunity at uni, especially when it comes to quail egg. We've had it both in and out of shell here:






As fresh and top-knotch as everything is, I must also mention "one more little thing."


Naaah, don't worry too much, as it's not too bad of an issue. Not that rice is not an issue, as it is half the battle in good sushi, but we're only talking about slight degrees here. I found the rice just a wee-bit off the mark, particularly in the rather small amount of vinegar used, and perhaps I only mention it because everything else, when it comes to sushi, is so outstanding. I still wouldn't hesitate bringing a friend from Japan here; along with the added fusion elements, it'd be an interesting and unique experience! It's just that I know there are lots and lots of sushi connoisseurs out there, and I'm speaking mostly to them through the most critique-minded adjustments possible. No worries! I'ts aaahlll good, for sure!

Aside from traditional styles, Corner Kitchen also features a wide variety of rolls, as in this seared garlic ahi roll:






I always laugh when I hear garlic-this or garlic-that, and you can't even catch a hint of bulbous root anywhere. In this roll, you can see, taste, and feel the garlic, and that's always a good thing. I've always found the chef's work on the mark, with an attention to minute details I can definitely appreciate. A sloppy roll or inferior piece of nigiri sticks out like a sore thumb, and I think it's pretty safe to say you won't find any of that here.

Lately, the Corner Kitchen has become my late-night choice (between 10pm and 12:30am) for a small sushi set for wifey and I to share, just after getting off from work. I'll call-in an order, park my car right out-front, and quickly dash-in to grab the goods. Just a few pieces are all it takes:


Take-Out Bento
Take-Out Bento


Oh, and did I mention $10 Coors Light pitchers? Well, not sure how long it'll be around, but it's been on the chalkboard for at least a couple of months now, and all night long, not just during Happy Hour! Added incentive to get you here real quick, is all! I mean, you know how it is these days - places shut down nearly as fast as they open, even places considered very good. You just never know. I want this place open for a long time, so come check it out, if even for a late-night sushi fix!


Hey, hope you're all having a great and wonderful month!

Take care, and Aloha till next time!


Corner Kitchen
477 Kapahulu Avenue
5pm-1am nightly

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gpy001 — Sunday, November 18, 2012
Stan, you're one heck of a Journalist! Had my mouth watering before I got to the photo's. The menu items looked & sounds very appetizing, except for the "Hamachi w/ Habanero & Tobiko"? What da heck? Oh, past! Thanks bro☺

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stan-ehara — Sunday, November 18, 2012
Hey, thanks gpy! You don't like hamachi w/habanero and tobiko? wassamatta u? Just kidding. Appreciate the kind words. I'll keep doing my best! Next month - testing the upper levels of the heat scale!

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psucher — Friday, November 30, 2012
is it wrong to lick the screen??? OMG!!!!!


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