I grew up with this dish………………..and no, my mom never cooks this dish even until now because it’s categorized as Japanese food and she only cooks Chinese food and Indonesian food as her specialty, but for most of the people in my age who used to lived in Jakarta 20 to 25 years ago, they must know what I meant very well.
Hoka Hoka Bento is probably one of the very first Japanese fast food restaurant in Jakarta. It was first opened in 1985 (I googled that), and oh yes, the restaurants and all the branches (so many of them) are still exist until now.
I knew Hoka Hoka Bento almost 25 years ago when I was still in Secondary School. I remember that for most of my friends and me, eating in Hoka Hoka Bento was a luxury treat back then because to us, it wasn’t cheap at all. Well, you may be can’t imagine how was life 25 years ago, but being the only Japanese restaurant that we’ve ever known and even seen for as long as we lived, Hoka Hoka Bento had set the trendsetter of Japanese food for my generation. Who doesn’t like all the crispy chicken karaage, ebi furai, egg chicken roll, and ekado which we never tasted before?
We fell in love immediately with the yakiniku and teriyaki style of cooking beef and chicken which was especially new to us, and most of all………….the salad with its thousand island sauce was always a hit for us. We always asked for extra thousand island, and back then, the restaurant staff would generously gave us extra sauce (but I don’t think that is still possible now, or maybe there is an extra charge?). Back then, we never knew that there was such thing as thousand island for the salad sauce, because when I was young, most families would eat salad with their homemade sambal.
As far as I can remember, this restaurant was always crowded with people especially during lunch hour and weekends. Almost every kid that I knew loved Hoka Hoka Bento, and I always see that the restaurants at the malls were usually packed with children on weekends. If your children have troubled eating, just bring them to Hoka Hoka Bento…………….that is probably what many moms will say even until now, hahaha………….
For the teriyaki version, I (so far) never find a similar version of this dish anywhere else. I guess the taste and the way that cook the dish has been adjusted to Indonesian style, especially with the extra addition of chili sauce. This teriyaki style was the first that I knew, and this is always the one that I still like until now. I never like any other version of chicken teriyaki in other Japanese restaurants as I grew up with this dish as this is the authentic taste that I love so much.
I like the crispy onions on top of this dish a lot and my son also likes them (even since he was in kindergarten he already liked crispy onions), but since my husband doesn’t really like almost raw onions, so I cook the onions longer then the original version. I also add potatoes because my son loves potatoes in teriyaki sauce, and he even complained when I only gave him small amount of potatoes and asked for more.
We like this dish so much and I think this almost resembles the original version that I used to eat back then. Since I hadn’t eaten this for a long time, I ate a lot when I cooked this yesterday, and my son was shocked when he saw me ate 2 bowls of rice with this dish, hahaha………..
- 2 to 3 large onions (I used 3 because we are onion lovers), cut into half ring shapes and separate the pieces
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter (or 3 if you use 3 large onions)
- 3 garlic, minced
- 1 thumb of ginger, cut in round shapes
- 300 gr chicken, cut in long thin slices or cut into 1 cm x 1 cm
- 3 tbsp teriyaki sauce (I use Saori Teriyaki Sauce from Indonesia because I like it better then other teriyaki sauce)
- 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 potato, cut 2 then cut in round thinly slices (optional)
- Marinate the chicken with all the sauce (teriyaki sauce, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil
- Put the marinated chicken in the fridge (not the freezer) for at least 2 hours
- Heat a non stick pan with 2 to 3 tbsp of unsalted butter (let the butter melt completely), then add large onion. Stir fry until fragrant and set aside
- After 2 hours, heat the same pan that used to stir fry the large onion, and heat it with 1 tbsp of cooking oil
- Add ginger, stir until fragrant, then add garlic and stir fry again until aromatic
- Add the chicken, keep stirring until the chicken turns color
- Add 100 ml of water, or 150 ml of water if you add potato. The extra water is needed to cook the potato
- Add the potato, mix until the sauce covers the potato
- Keep cooking until there is only about 4 tbsp of sauce left. Take one chicken and taste it, if it’s not cooked through yet, add water little by little (about 20 ml every time). Do this until the chicken and the potatoes are tender
- Push the chicken and the potatoes to one side of the pan, and bring the sauce to the other side of the pan
- Add large onions into the sauce, do a quick stir until the onions mix well with the sauce, then turn off the heat
- To serve: mix the onions with the chicken and potatoes and transfer to a serving plate, or
- Transfer the chicken and the potatoes to a serving plate then arrange the onions on top of them
- Serve with fresh salad and chili sauce