Here’s an actual conversation overheard in restroom: “Eh, I go off island tomorrow, 9 months, maybe mo’, so, we stay Kochi’s, yea? My parents took me here, it’s terrific, good food, so, come down, let’s hang out. Yea, Kochi, that’s on King, yea, by McCully.”
This snippet sums up Kochi Restaurant & Lounge, by Gulick Deli, at 1936 South King Street about two blocks before McCully Street. A simple tasteful place where family and friends hang out and eat terrific food, partaking in beverages including a full service bar. Befitting a lounge there are several huge screen television monitors, so on ‘Game’ Day expect an enthusiastic crowd.
McCully is the name describing one of the best inner city neighborhoods, right on the gateway to Waikiki bridging passage between midtown downtown, Makiki, Kaimuki, and makai of H-1. McCully is a fantastic mix of modest apartment/condo complexes, duplexes, and a few tiny tidy homes on modest lots. An able neighborhood with a wondrous mix of eateries & shops & stores, there is plenty of parking, but who needs a vehicle? Getting out & walking is one of the reasons McCully is a great place to unwind.
Kochi caters to those who are not in a rush, who wish to spend time with family & friends catching up. One can spot these folk meeting in the ample parking lot, hugs, laughter, an exchange of lei, they chat as they drift inside Kochi, many have phoned ahead with a reservation, the host or hostess greets them with a smile, guiding them to a table where they will spend an hour or more eating & drinking and talking story. Folk exit in the same leisurely fashion, pausing just outside the door for a few more minutes of chat, returning to their vehicles, or preparing to walk to close by bus stops, they exchange a few more words & friendly gestures.
Kochi provides a comfortable environment. Frosted glass windows impart a tranquil light. High backed cushioned chairs around substantial wooden tables with no more clutter than a pair of salt & pepper shakers. Early Birds arrive when Kochi opens at 5PM, and they are treated to special prices & dishes to 6:30 PM, seven days a week. Dinner is served daily from 5 PM to 10 PM and those in need of a libation can expect Happy Hour Specials daily to 8PM. Even when you are ‘pau’ dinner, you do not have to go, take your party into the bar/lounge where you will find Pupu (s) served from 10PM to closing at 2AM.
Kochi serves local style Japanese food: translation, good tasty treats mainly from the ocean or not all that far from the ocean. Naturally their Sushi & Sashimi is excellent Kochi proudly says this about their Fresh Fish Entree, “Everything fresh and cut right here! We’ll prepare it to your choice of: Garlic, Shoyu, Furikake Crusted, lemon garlic butter.” Served with brown or white rice and green or macaroni salad, it’s a terrific deal for $15.95
McCully is a place for cheap eats, but the eats here are not cheap. They are well-prepared and satisfying — the sort of food one feels perfectly fine when spending on average between $16 to $30 for an entrée, with Sushi & Appetizers between $7 and $20. Kochi has a welcoming yet fun menu. You can find the usual suspects; Stuffed Shitake Mushrooms ($6.95), Spicy Garlic Shrimp ($11.95), Fresh Salmon Poke ($9.95). And the not so usual; Tempura Soft Shell Crab ($10.95) with Yuzu Vinaigrette, Baked Cream Mussels ($9.95), and Gyuniku no Tataki ($17.95) “seared thin slice choice strip loin w/ sliced garlic, daikon oroshi and ponzu.”
Kochi has a terrific selection of salads and sushi rolls for both the novice and the more adventuresome. Simple plate of House Greens for $4.95 to a popular favorite Sashimi Salad for $12.95, as well as a Roasted Pear Bleu Cheese Salad for $9.95 described as “Gogonzola, slow roasted pear, and greens in balsamic vinaigrette. Dragon Rolls are always a favorite ($10.95), and even Midwestern American guests can enjoy a California Sushi Roll ($7.95), or a Vegetable Roll for $6.95, and when Kochi says “trust us, just try it,” you should and you would be delighted by the Kochi Roll for $8.95.
Entrees are equally balanced between expected & exotic-lite. Nothing startling yet everything tasty and well prepared. Though I tend to slaughter land animals & birds, I was tempted by their fish selections (since so many have raved to me about Kochi fish dishes). Furitake Crusted Mahi Mahi ($12.95) and Blackened Ahi ($18.95) highly recommended but I chose Misoyaki Butterfish ($18.50) and was delighted by “fillets of butterfish marinated in GD miso sauce.”
Kochi is equally renowned for beef and pork. Their Kurobuta Kakuni ($16.95) is described as “the Kobe beef of pork, braised in a Hatcho Miso Reduction.” One can chose New York Steak for $16.95 or Rib-Eye for $19.95, but the next time I grind at Kochi I will be ordering their Deep Fried Pork Chops for $13.95.
I will reorder Garlic Fried Rice, which was an excellent bargain for $6.95 for two or three, or family sized for $10.95. This excellent rice with garlic & onion was tasty, though my dinner companion insists I check out the Crab Fried Rice next time.
I didn’t have room for dessert, but they all sound delicious — especially the flourless Decadence Chocolate Cake for $7.50, served w/ raspberry couli.
Kochi is a terrific place for those planning a midday event (example, business luncheons) for fifteen or more people. Call ahead to 941-2835, tell them that you know they are closed for lunch but open for private parties, mainly between 10/11AM and 2/3 PM. Kochi is perfect for those ‘awkward’ birthday parties. Parents know what I mean: children in their late teens or early twenties — they want a place that is grown up yet still playful. For a lunchtime birthday party check ‘em out.