FUUD: Tsukuneya Robata Grill near UH

I remember when Tsukuneya Robata Grill opened in the spot on the corner of University Avenue and Dole Street vacated by Players Sports Bar (and before that, Pizza Hut).

And I remember, after eating my first meal there, “This isn’t going to last.”

But four years later, Tsukuneya is still around — and with a loyal following, devoted to the stylish restaurant’s menu of skewered, grilled and deep-fried fare.

I’ll admit, the first time I ate here I didn’t care for it. The signature tsukune — basically, a ground chicken meatball on a stick — wasn’t that appealing to me. And I didn’t see how this robatayaki would differentiate itself from the other, more established ones such as Tokkuri-Tei and Izakaya Nonbei so nearby.

Then again, the others don’t specialize in tsukune. And if you like that sort of stuff — or any food specialty hailing from Nagoya — you’ll love Tsukuneya.

A couple I’m friends with loves this place, so I decided to give it another go. And you know what? It was a lot better the second time around.

Here’s what we ate:

Ume ochazuke

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One of my friends loves the ume ochazuke at Tsukuneya. Ochazukue is a simple dish that combines rice — and, in this case, ume — with hot green tea. Some other common toppings include salmon, tsukemono, nori, tarako and mentaiko and wasabi.

Tsukuneya Robata Grill, 1442 University Ave. Hours: 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Phone: 808-943-0390, www.tsukuneyarobatagrill.com.

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To read all of Cat’s blogs, visit www.nonstophonolulu.com/thedailydish. Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at cat@nonstophonolulu.com.

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