My SO and I found ourselves in Baldwin village last night and couldn’t decide what to eat – until we read Konnichiwa’s menu, which made me crave some homestyle Japanese food like my mom makes. I hadn’t been there in a couple of years, so I was surprised when we entered into the cozy but empty restaurant, which only had one other table filled with older Japanese folks – which was rare to see, and boded well.
The menu had expanded since I was last there, and I found to be much similar to other lower-end Japanese places out there but with less emphasis on sushi and more on daily regular Japanese food, boasting mixed plates and bentos, noodles (ramen, soba, udon) and donburis, and curries as well as special fish entrees.
Despite the heat and humidity of the day I opted for the ramen with a miso/garlic broth topped with pork ($7.50) with a side of gyoza (for $1.50 extra), since I haven’t had ramen in ages! My SO went with the mixed plate ($15) including salmon teriyaki, yakitori and assorted tempura (which came with salad, miso soup and rice). We also ordered avocado maki ($3) and spicy tuna maki ($5.50).
Our server was attentive and sweet and we received our salad and gyoza orders promptly, followed by our maki orders. The salad was underdressed and your typical iceberg lettuce with one obligatory tomato slice, but par for the course when it’s part of a combo.
The gyoza, on the other hand, was a big hit. It was succulent and juicy, with a big hunk of filling nestled within vs. the tiny portions of meat served at other establishments. The best part of the gyoza was that it was steamed and served with the traditional shoyu and vinegar dip, vs. other places where it’s served with the dashi broth that comes with tempura (usually filled with MSG).
The miso soup was filled with lots of wakame (seaweed) and tofu, and made with darker miso (and again, no MSG!). Very flavourful in the Japanese fashion – i.e. not in your face and no added salt. Our maki came with delicious white pickled ginger and tasted much less like preservatives than other places. The tuna was very fresh and supple, and the roll had just the right texture, flavour and density of rice.
On to our mains. My SO loved the mixed plate – the salmon was perfectly grilled, and the tempura was oh so crisp. He even loved the yakitori, which he generally won’t touch anywhere else.
And the piece de resistance – the ramen. Wow – I’m even drooling thinking back to it now. I’ve read in other threads that some CHers found the broth to be boring, but my miso/garlic broth was incredible! It was just the right amount of flavour (I didn’t need to add the spice salt or spicy oil that they brought out) vs. Kenzo broth which I found to be too salty, oily and overpowering (more like a Korean broth) for ramen. The noodles were a tad overcooked, but still delicious, and the pork was really flavourful. What broth I couldn’t finish, the SO did – even though he’s not a “soup person.”
I will definitely be back more regularly, especially since the meal was so inexpensive compared to the quality of the food. Everything came out to under $50 after tax, tip and a beer, and we were really and happily full.
Another note, all of the servers, owner, and chefs are Japanese, and there was another Japanese table that came in halfway through our meal. Might be important for those CHers out there who are looking for an authentic Japanese meal. I would definitely take my Japanese family there.
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