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Island Gets Hawaiian Flavor As Hokulea Opens

By: Dinner Gong

Date Posted: 2000-05-19

A new Hawaiian restaurant has opened in the American Village, Hokulea. The name means “Star” (Hok) “Lea” (Happiness). The restaurant’s Polynesian flavor is immediately evident on entering the long, airy room up a flight of stairs.

Wooden framed photos of tropical beaches, perfect waves and sunsets line the walls. There are sprays of exotic flowers, a huge needlework rendition of a highly colored bloom is on one wall, a well polished surfboard is mounted on another. There is a minature surfboard on the enormous wooden table that runs down the center of the room.

On either side of this table, with its soft topped communal benches, are individual tables. Down one side of the room the furniture is whicker-work and on the other, solid wood.

There is a serving counter at one end of the oblong room, which has a three unusual stained glass windows above it, cut into moon, star and leaf shapes. The waiters have floral, open necked shirts. The atmosphere is informal and relaxed.

The menu is divided into sections such as Okinawan, which offers a variety of dishes like Tofu Champuru (Tofu mixed vegetables) or the noodle version Somin Champuru, priced between ¥280 and ¥480.

The Yakitori section is similarly priced and has delicacies like Tsukune (mince balls) or the chicken version. The Deep Fried menu is between ¥280 and ¥580 and includes spring rolls. There is Korean Style Tuna and Avocado for ¥580. Italian Pasta is also available, as are dishes such as Carubacho (raw fish with dressing, garnished with basil and spices).

Rice dishes from, ¥380 to ¥580, include Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Garlic Rice and Onni Giri (baked rice).

There is an extensive cocktail list. For each of these cocktail bases there are four to six varieties of drinks: vodka, peachtree, tequila, passoa, dita, campari, cassis, rum, malib and “other”. Cocktails are from ¥480 to ¥580.

There is Orion, Asahi, Corona and Coors beer, priced between ¥450 and ¥500 per 500ml mug. 1730ml Jugs of Orion cost ¥1440.

Wines from France, Italy, Australia and the United States are also available. They cost between ¥430 and ¥730 a glass and from ¥1700 to ¥2900 a bottle. There is also bourbon, Awamori, Sake, Grape Sour, Peach Sour and soft drinks.

DG and his friends tried three dishes. The Hokulea Salad at ¥680 was an orange and white streaked mound of cabbage, lettuce, tomato containing appetizing chunks of octopus, tuna and shellfish with a pumpkin center and topped off with water cress. It was a very unusual concoction and delicious.

DG was surprised to learn that none of this food was especially Hawaiian, that the traditional food there was considered rather dull by Hokulea’s owners! They are striving for an atmosphere, a mood, a setting, rather than an authentic taste experience of that island.

The next dish was Chicken Chili Mayonnaise at ¥480, whose unusual ingredients were sticky rice, spring onion and cheese. An unlikely sounding combination but it tasted good.

Genkiyaki at ¥380, was a kind of okonomoyaki made from yams which only grow on mountain tops, a pleasingly exotic detail DG thought.

The menu is going to be changed every three months and the management said an English menu will be in place by the time you read this.

In addition the Hokulea has a lunchtime menu from 11 am to 3 pm. This is divided into five sections: Asian, Chinese, Bombard, Uchinar and Lagazza. All dishes cost ¥780. The Asian section has rice, beef, coconut curry, Thai style glass noodles and fried chicken. The Chinese one has fried rice, fried glass noodles, crab omelette and fried spring roll.

The Bombard or Western menu, which has large portions, has rice, steak, grilled chicken and fries. The Uchinar part serves typical Okinawan food like Miso Soup, Vegetable, Tofu, Meat and Pork Mix. The Lagazza or Italian menu specializes in pasta, grilled chicken, bread, garlic toast and dessert.

On payment of an extra ¥100 diners can order any drink they like. They can also avail themselves of bottomless cups of coffee.

Directions: Going south from Kadena towards Naha, take a left at Camp Lester Hospital Gates and the American Village is a short distance away. Hokulea is opposite Makeman and the Jusco 7Plex

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