Nonde, in Japanese, means to drink. According to my F.O.B friends and others who have lived in Japan, there is no one that drinks the way Japanese businessmen do. These guys love to drink so much so that it’s customary for a salariman (Japanese for businessman) to keep a card with his address on it, on him at all times. That way, in the event he gets too hammered to make it home, all one has to do (like the cab driver for example), is stick their hand into the guy’s coat and get a hold of that card. Either that, or they stumble back to their offices to sleep under their desks until the start of another work day.
It’s no wonder how the Japanese have developed an amazingly ingenious dining concept: izakayas.
Izakayas are Japanese pubs. But it’s not just about drinking. You need food, otherwise, it’s not an izakaya.
The formula’s simple.
Decent drink + good food + the warmth of friendship. An izakaya puts food in the center of the table for all to share, as eating is social.
Honolulu has been fortunate enough that we’ve imported the izakaya concept straight from Japan.
I love the concept so much that a large portion of this blog will be dedicated to exploring the many different ones HNL has to offer.
Today, it’s all about Aun, my very first izakaya experience. Located in McCully Shopping Center, it’s a hidden little gem tucked away behind the staircase on the ground level.
It was a month before my 22nd birthday and The Korean wanted to take me to this new place she had tried. Sheltered and not as town-savvy, I looked to The Korean for places to go in those early days. I couldn’t stomach natto (sticky fermented soybeans), to save my life, forget even knowing what an izakaya was. Now, I annihilate natto like I’ve been deprived of food for days and order Ichiko bottles (Japanese shochu) without feeling like an alcoholic. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do! Anyway, if you can’t finish the bottle, you simply write your name on it and ask the bartender to keep it on the shelf and save it for next time.
Just a note of pre-caution: Izakayas aren’t generally known to be places for cheap eats. With expensive ingredients, like certain seafood, being popular menu items, it’s rare to find a cheap izakaya. If you do it right, expect a bill for two to be at least $100.
Totally worth it, though, if surrounded by good company.