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Makiki Eats: Hinone Mizunone

We recently celebrated Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E’s birthday at Hinone Mizunone, a relatively new Japanese restaurant that took over the Taco Bell location on the corner of Sheridan and King Street, just a block Ewa (west-bound) of “Koreamoku”.

They cleverly retained the same building by disguising Taco Bell’s Spanish architecture by incorporating a “shoji” treatment over the exterior of the arched windows, covering the lower walls and soffit with wood siding panels, along with a splash of black paint over the remaining exposed brick walls, giving the exterior a chic, modern asian look.

The interior decor carries on that contemporary asian theme, while being well lit and tables adequately spaced out without feeling cramped.

Getting right to it, let’s check out the lunch menu, which is a more abbreviated version than their complete dinner menu…

What I appreciate here that I wish ALL casual restaurants would do, is they provide a full pitcher of ice water (they gave us two!) at each table, as I drink lots of water with my meal, and I like being able to refill my own glass whenever needed. Especially when the place gets busy and the wait staff have their hands full.

Speaking of which, they certainly have their kitchen well-staffed and managed, as our all our food arrived at the table no longer than 10 minutes from the time we placed our orders.

Our food begins with birthday boy Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E’s Shrimp Tempura Udon and Beef Curry set…

Shrimp Curry Udon & Curry lunch set. $14

A closer look at the Shrimp Tempura Udon…

No worry Beef Curry…

Next up we have Diner C’s Assorted Tempura Teishoku set…

Assorted Tempura (Shrimp, Squid, Vegetables) Teishoku lunch set. $13

A closer look at the Assorted Tempura…

On to Diner A’s Karaage Chicken Teishoku set

Karaage (Japanese style Fried Chicken) Teishoku lunch set. $9.50

Zoom in…

Finally, we have the Hinone Mizunone Tonkatsu Teishoku set, which both Diner AA and Diner P (yours truly) ordered

Tonkatsu (Pork Katsu) with Homemade Sauce Teishoku lunch set. $10.50

Zoom in..

I must immediately point out that this was one HUGE  slab-O-Katsu, which  easily clocking in around a full pound of pork.

Joining our ‘Zilla-sized Tonkatsu was an impressive array of the usual Teishoku sides, including this wonderfully-flavored, piping hot bowl of Shiro Miso Soup…

What also must be pointed out is the excellent texture and overall quality of the Tamaki Gold gohan (rice) served here, which is one of the highlight features of this restaurant…

Portions certainly aren’t an issue here, as like the “Zilla-sized” Tonkatsu, there must have been nearly 2 cups of cooked rice in that bowl (about a cup uncooked).

Hinone Mizunone’s various Tsukemono (pickled vegetables) provided with each Teishoku set were all very tasty, with a deeply marinated acidic-meets-sweet flavor and crunchy texture…

I’m not sure if it’s considered tsukemono, but this marinaded eggplant side dish was particularly outstanding!…

The sliced eggplant is steeped in what tastes like a super-concentrated Tempura dipping sauce, where the best way I can describe it, is that it explodes with “Umami’ness”, while the soft flesh of the eggplant is almost meat-like. I mean you could seriously order just a bowl of this marinaded eggplant, pile that over hot rice and make that the meal. If you’re a vegetarian (or vegetarian wannabe) seeking out more “meat-like” non-meat options, definitely add Hinone Mizunone’s Japanese marinaded eggplant to your must-do list.

Meat lovers rejoice, let’s get back to the tonkatsu, where how’s the sauce? FANTASTIC! It’s quite different than any other Tonkatsu sauce I’ve tried, as you may recall from my infamous “Great Tonkatsu Sauce Shootout“, I’ve tried lots of ’em.

As you can tell by the photos, Hinone Mizunone’s Tonkatsu sauce has considerably more body to it, making it almost gravy-like, while adhering to the acidic-meets-fruity flavor profile of authentic Japanese Tonkatsu sauce.

If you’re a fan of authentic Japanese Tonkatsu, for the “gravy sauce” alone, you certainly should add Hinone Mizunone’s Tonkatsu to your must-do list. It really is something special.

Our only gripe is that they don’t provide enough Tonkatsu “Gravy Sauce” by default. They pour the sauce over the half the Tonkatsu, which looks great and should be that way, although that’s it, as there’s no more “gravy sauce” sitting under the huge slab of panko-breaded pork, nor is there any served on the side. So essentially there’s only enough for half the Katsu, making you scrape whatever thick “gravy sauce” you can to go along with the other half of each cutlet slice.

As for the thick-cut pork cutlet itself, it was breaded evenly and generously coated, and was cooked perfectly GBD (golden brown delicious). Diner AA noted her pork cutlet was a little overcooked and dried out, however mine seemed fine, being moist and tender, except for perhaps the end pieces, which suffered a little stiffness. If there’s one thing I noticed is that the pork tasted a little bland, where you could tell it was either previously frozen (for a very long time), and/or was just a cheap cut and/or cheap grade of pork. Yet for an incredibly value-priced $10.50 for this entire set, I suppose that’s nitpicking, and that absolutely oishii Tonkatsu “Gravy Sauce” picks up any of the slack.

Further adding to the incredible value of this Teishoku set, joining the Tonkatsu on the same plate is a fresh and crispy side salad of shredded cabbage (actually the bed for the Katsu), iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber and tomatoes with Thousand Island dressing. While the Thousand Island dressing didn’t go over well with some on the table, it worked for me.

Summing it up, a “gravy-saucy-licious” 4 SPAM Musubi for the Hinone Mizunone Tonkatsu Teishoku lunch set. More “gravy sauce” and a better quality piece of pork and it’d easily be a 5!

As for the other dishes, Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E noted his Beef Curry tasted like your typical mild Japanese curry, yet he was highly disappointed with there being only ONE measly PIECE of beef in the entire serving. “No worry beef curry” became more like “Where’s the beef?”.

He gave a thumbs up for the Shrimp Tempura Udon, noting the broth had good depth and a favorable flavor profile to his palate, summing the entire set up with a “Saimin Kaukau-ish” (super critical) 2 SPAM Musubi.

Diner C gave her Assorted Tempura Teishoku set 3 SPAM Musubi, noting the tempura batter was a bit on the dense side and not as light and delicate as she’d prefer, but still satisfying, and thankfully not greasy.

Diner AA gave her Tonkatsu Teishoku set 3 SPAM Musubi, with her particular pork cutlet being a little overcooked and dry the only setback to an otherwise excellent and satisfying meal.

Diner A gave his Chicken Karaage Teishoku set 4 SPAM Musubi, with his only complaint being that they should serve the broth-sauce on the side, as with the breaded chicken served on the plate sitting in the sauce, the breading that was submerged in it was unpleasantly soggy. Otherwise, he said he could DRINK that Karaage broth-sauce, it’s that good. The chicken was also moist and tender. He also took notice to the exceptional texture and quality of the rice, which really can make or break a dish, and thankfully here that Tamaki Gold exceeds expectations.

We also shared a Green Tea Ice Cream, which they have custom made by Lappert’s,  along with the Warabi-Mochi. While I’ll eat it, I’m not really into mochi, so that wasn’t something I cared for, but the Green Tea Ice Cream was creamy and distinct in flavor, being something I’d order a tub of to take home to my freezer if they offered it.

Sorry I don’t have pics of the dessert, as I’ve discovered the SDHC card I bought for my new “blogger friendly” Canon Powershot S95 digicam is either defective or an incompatible brand, as it writes corrupted image file data once the card fills to a certain point, as happened (again) at this outing. Argghh. I’ll soon have a working card.

The service on this visit to Hinone Mizunone was friendly and quick, where once again, everyone’s order landed with 10 minutes of being ordered. Their moderate-sized parking lot can fill quickly, as when we arrived at peak lunch hour, there was only one available stall remaining that we fortunately grabbed.

Hinone Mizunone
1345 S. King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii  96814

Tel. (808) 942-4848

The Tasty Island rating:

(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

Related Tasty Island links:
The Great Tonkatsu Sauce Shootout
Gyotaku Japanese Restaurant
Hifumi Japanese Restaurant
Shokudo Japanese Restaurant
Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin

Related external links:
Hinone Mizunone – Yelp user reviews
Hinone Mizunone, a closer look – Aku Eats
Japanese chain brings home cookin’ to the islands – Honolulu Advertiser


8 thoughts on “Makiki Eats: Hinone Mizunone

  • August 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    pomai! these pics are just fantastic!!! now i got a huge craving for tempura udon, katsu, and japanese curry!!! i like going to the mitsuwa in torrance or the marukai in gardena (both in the greater los angeles area)…..humm i shall go there again soon :D :D :D

  • August 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I’ve wanted to try this place for a loooong time, but was put off by a Yelp comment (reinforced by your review) that the food is pre-made and sits under heaters until an order comes up. Did you find this to be true? I love my Japanese food, but it has to be freshly made or I feel like I’m eating a Shirokiya bento…You can’t beat those prices, though. $10? How do they stay in business?!

  • August 8, 2011 at 3:24 am

    “If you’re a vegetarian (or vegetarian wannabe) seeking out more “meat-like” non-meat options, definitely add Hinone Mizunone’s Japanese marinaded eggplant to your must-do list.”

    It’s more than likely that the marinade had dashi in it, making it it off limits to vegetarians/vegans like me. That’s one bad thing about Japanese cuisine, what looks like an innocent vegetable dish always has dashi in it. When the few times I go to a Japanese restaurant, I usually order a plain green salad with no dressing ,since they’re always mayonaise based, and plain white (they never have brown) rice.

  • August 8, 2011 at 4:50 am

    Fat Fudge, funny you pointing out that statement, as I had actually thought about the tuna-based Bonito in the dashi while I wrote that. Which is why I added “vegetarian wannabe”, as some folks loosely label themselves “vegetarian” , yet bend a few rules. Once upon a time when I was in my early 20’s, I went on a semi-vegetarian diet for about 6 months, completely omitting land animal meats, yet still including fish and dairy. Even with that, that period of time was probably the leanest my body has ever been. The body AND mind certainly felt much cleaner and clearer as well. I’ve been thinking about doing that again, which when I’m ready to make the sacrifice will go for it. Surely you can still be a “foodie” without eating meat. In fact, it could be more interesting and fun to blog about because of the challenges presented in our “meat-centric” westernized society.

    Molly, I really should up the ante on investigative journalism here, as NO, I didn’t ask or stare into the semi-open kitchen to find out whether the food is pre-cooked, nor did I read every Yelp review (I did read a couple) before going here. It must be though, as now that I think about it, that’s probably why Diner AA’s pork cutlet was slightly overcooked and dried out, and Diner C’s tempura was “on the firm side”. BUT, keep in mind that fluffy Tamaki Gold rice which helps make up for that, by I suppose disguising the entire meal as being fresh-made. Good rice can do that. Speaking of Shirokiya, I need to blog their new Meika food court. Place is awesome.

    Raph’, I don’t recall any of you cali’ folks dropping the Mitsuwa name before. Is that like Marukai? I’ll search for it later. I still have yet to hit the new Nijiya Market (now 2 locations) here, which some liken as the Japanese equivalent to Whole Foods.

  • August 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    That tonkatsu plate looks 4 spam ms for sure.


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