Jimbo: Where fresh noodles still rule
By Lianna McCurdy
Driving down King Street, a passer-by might miss Jimbo Restaurant nestled within a small shopping center along the way. A cozy Ilima Award-winning lunch and dinner stop, this establishment serves up an intimate experience of traditional Japanese fare that is especially known for its comforting udon.
Birthed in 1994 by the Motojima family, Jimbo Restaurant was one of Honolulu’s first udon eateries to offer patrons fresh noodles. Since then, the eatery has carried on a legacy of quality food and service.
This intimate hideaway has been cooking up consistent fare for three generations of noodle house frequenters on Oahu. Owner Makiko Motojima offered a look into the business’s regular clientele: “Some of our customers came here as kids, and now they’re 30 years old, so they bring their babies.”
The family-oriented atmosphere in the establishment is apparent, and Jimbo Restaurant’s employees have built their own ohana within the workplace. Many employees have been a part of the team for more than five years.
“I think people work so long here because they love the food and get to know regular customers,” said Motojima.
Now, however, they’re making room for the next generation of employees to carry on the tradition of providing long-standing customers their favorite dishes. Motojima emphasized her family’s standards of excellence for their cuisine.
“When people visit, we want them to taste authentic Japanese noodles,” she explained. “We make our recipes from scratch, with no MSG and all natural ingredients.”
Staff members are well aware of Jimbo Restaurant’s commitment to genuine Japanese flavor, and are ready to serve clientele with superior service.
“Our restaurant is fast-paced. People who work here need to be friendly, hardworking and enjoy the small, local restaurant environment. I want them to enjoy working here,” Motojima said. She also articulated the necessity for employees to love the food, as that is what Jimbo Restaurant is all about.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, the noodle house presents a variety of udon, both hot and cold, Don Buri (toppings on rice), and traditional sides. The udon options seem endless, and customers can even add extra toppings to already appetizing noodle bowls. Jimbo Restaurant offers toppings like natto, mochi, shiso leaf, egg, and tempura chips, just to name a few. Vegetarian options are also served.
Some of the best-selling items on the menu are the Kurobuta Don (Ginger Black Pork on Rice) and Curry Rice (offered with Jidori, Beef, Shrimp or Pork Katsu).
“Our customers love our curry, which is very simple and made mostly from apples and onion,” Motojima noted.
While the establishment’s menu is centered around classic Japanese items and noodles, Motojima said that customer’s needs are always important to her and her employees. She explained, “Our Curry Udon with Pork Katsu was actually a customer’s idea. Our locals love the crispy dish, so we added it to the menu. We try to always make authentic Japanese udon and soup, but do accommodate local customs as well, like more rice and more noodles in dishes.”
To the Motojimas, maintaining the tradition and quality of Japanese noodles is of utmost importance. Those looking to become part of the Jimbo Restaurant family should be ready to uphold this longstanding establishment’s standards by delivering first-rate service and, especially, demonstrating dedication to delicious food.
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ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTOS
COMPANY: Jimbo Restaurant
LOCATION: 1936 S King St., No. 103, Honolulu
OWNERS: The Motojima family
BENEFITS: Full-time employees receive health benefits and paid vacation after a year of work. Part-time employees are oﬀered meals at a discounted price. Jimbo Restaurant also has party for employees during the holidays.
NOTEWORTHY: The venue has won an Ilima Award by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and been in business for nearly 25 years.