A cozy little hot pot restaurant in Kaimuki keeps me coming back for more. I’ve driven the 36.4 mile round trip from my home to Asuka Nabe + Shabu Shabu at least a dozen times and shared this hidden gem with my closest friends. The cozy booths, friendly service and satisfying food makes this one of my current favorite restaurants.
Asuka is a real treat for the senses. There’s something remarkably soothing about steaming, flavorful broth brimming with fresh veggies and tender meats. The subtle aroma always brings me back to sitting in the living room with mom’s cooking wafting in from the kitchen.
I love the way a good hot pot connects friends and family. The sharing of the meal is fun and interactive, allowing everyone to choose different combinations of broth, meat and vegetables. Having a communal dish is reminiscent of the days of Little League baseball potlucks with chili and Portuguese bean soup. Families would all eat from the same pot and talk story for hours as the sun set.
Sesame, ginger and ponzu sauces along with Sriracha and shoyu are provided at each table to create your own dipping sauce. Jars of grated daikon, green onions and sesame seeds sit beside the sauces for added texture and flavor. My favorite combination is equal parts sesame sauce and Sriracha mixed with green onions and ground sesame seeds.
Earlier this week I shared Asuka with Mari, Diane and her daughter. We enjoyed a great meal, shared stories and left satisfied.
Spicy umakara and Asuka soup bases
We split the pot to try two different broths with our shabu shabu. The spicy umakara soup base is made from chicken stock, red chilis and honey. The Asuka soup base is made from milk, honey, miso and chicken broth and is served with a small pat of butter and cracked black pepper. I like to mix the two for a spicy and creamy soup base.
Asuka Nabe + Shabu Shabu
3620 Waialae Ave.