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Renovations boost Honolulu hideaway

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    Yamakake with grated yamaimo ($5.95) and Avocado Maguro ($6.95) are part of Ichiriki Loft's pupu menu.
    Curry Pizza Toast ($8) is part of Ichiriki Loft's pau-hana pupu menu.
    A crowd gathered at Ichiriki Loft. The venue is located on the second floor above the Ichiriki Japanese Restaurant and offers drinks, pupu and nabe.

Ichiriki Loft has just completed renovations to increase its food service capabilities, but the key attractions of the second-floor hideaway remain intact.

When I visited, the restaurant was removing its couches and adding more nabe tables, in order to accommodate more customers. The space has a spare, contemporary feel, with neutral tones and a relaxing atmosphere.

There’s ample parking behind the building, accessible from Kona Street, and the location is a convenient starting point for almost any event in central Honolulu. That’s good news for people who like to get a night out started early.

Maybe it was a fluke, but we had the place to ourselves until well past 6 p.m. last Friday. With contemporary jazz instrumentals as background music, it was an ideal place to decompress after a long and hectic day.


Where: 510 Piikoi St., second floor.

Happy hour: 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; all day till closing on Sunday.

» Daily drink specials; ask server for details

Pupu Picks:
» Chicken Karaage ($5.95)
» Fried Garlic Shrimp ($9.95)
» Avocado Maguro ($6.95)
» Chikuwa Cheese Gratin ($5)
» Curry Pizza Toast ($8)


The daily drink specials aided the decompression process. The Friday specials are premium shots (Grey Goose, Jagermeister, Crown Reserve, Patron and Ketel One). The $6 shot is a generous pour, and a good reason for Seagrams drinkers to step up from Crown Royal to Crown Reserve.

We asked the manager for other suggestions and he recommended the Purple Rain ($8) and the Shizu Mojito ($8). Both were delicious. Vodka and freshly squeezed grape juice are the key ingredients in the Purple Rain; it was cool, refreshing and deceptively smooth. The mojito is a tasty variation on the popular tropical favorite.

The menu can be confusing for first-timers. The items available during happy hour are not discounted, and not everything from the full menu is available during happy hour.

Even so, there are more than enough selections in four categories — light pupu, beef and poultry, seafood, dessert — for a full meal, and our server was happy to answer any questions.

The most memorable item was Chikuwa Cheese Gratin ($5), combining fishcake and onions with a browned crisp of melted cheese. It was a surprisingly good idea. The Chicken Karaage ($5.95) didn’t have the visual pizzazz of the Fried Garlic Shrimp ($9.95) or the Curry Pizza Toast ($8), but the chicken was moist, tender and nicely seasoned.


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