It’s Time to Go Richo
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Japanese-style preparation meets Korean culinary fare at Richo Korean Cuisine, where tatami mats and the inviting aromas of kal-bi, chijimi (Korean pancakes) and kimchi offer an authentic Asian flair to this modern establishment. At Richo, the clientele run the gamut — from kamaaina to globe-trotting visitors who include Japanese celebrities — all of whom seem to have one common goal in mind: to taste the scintillating dishes expertly prepared by executive chef Masato Tsuji. Dining Out recently caught up with Richo owner Takeshi Urushido, who graciously took time out of his schedule to discuss how he’s found so much success serving up Korean cuisine.
DO: Richo Korean Cuisine originated in 2006 in Tokyo, Japan, before you brought it to the Islands. There are now four Richo locations in Japan. What type of clientele frequents Richo Tokyo?
Urushido: It’s a very upscale restaurant, so we have many businesspeople, those who live around that particular area. Sometimes, even celebrities will dine there.
DO: You opened the Hawaii location in August 2008. What was your motivation in bringing the restaurant overseas?
Urushido: I visited Hawaii for the first time 20 years ago and I absolutely loved it. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to open a restaurant and make a name for myself here in Hawaii.
DO: You’re Japanese, born and raised in Tokyo, and yet you decided to dedicate yourself to Korean cuisine. Why is that?
Urushido: Korean food is known to be very healthy and tasty. I wanted people to be able to experience and enjoy this type of food. I go to Korea very often to learn more about Korean cuisine and to eat different foods. I’ve been there more than 100 times.
DO: For someone who may be dining at Richo Korean Cuisine for the first time, what are some of the items that you would highly recommend?
Urushido: The Hot Stone Bowl Bibimbap ($9 bowl, $15.80 set) has always been a wonderful item on the menu since we opened the restaurant. This dish features hot rice within a hot stone bowl topped with namul and eggs. When mixed well together with sesame seed oil and hot pepper paste, it’s delicious. I recommend saving some rice for the end of the meal to eat with hot soup.
For a party of two, I would recommend sharing the Teppan Combo ($38.80). It’s a filling set where guests become full on the miso soup of South Korea, an array of kimchi, namul, salad and seaweed. Then they can cook their choice of meat on a tabletop hot grill and roll the meat in sangchu, which is much more nourishing than lettuce.
Our homemade kimchi ($5) is also one of the best, something that everyone must try, and so is our chijimi. The Seafood Leek Chijimi ($8 half, $12 whole), for example, is very popular and consists of pan-fried clams, squid, shrimp and green onion in a special pancake batter.
However, the kimchi, namul and ahi poke are consistent best-sellers here, along with the kal-bi, fried chicken and spicy chicken, which locals love.
DO: You plan to revamp the menu in the near future. What can patrons expect?
Urushido: I plan on releasing the new menu in early to mid-April and it will feature more combo and set meals. It’s a great value with a lot of food, perfect for families who wish to share.
DO: The setting and decor of the restaurant can be classified as upscale-chic. Do you think the food also is a good representation of that?
Urushido: Yes, we always use fresh ingredients and local products when we can. We serve a lot of unique items that you won’t find anywhere else, as I came up with many of these specific recipes on my own. Presentation also is of utmost importance. We want to give our customers only the best.
Richo Korean Cuisine
- 3008 Waialae Avenue
- Honolulu, HI 96816
- (808) 734-2222
- 5:30 p.m. – midnight
- Tuesday – Saturday (last call 11 p.m.)
- 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Sunday (last call 9:30 p.m.)
- Reservations are recommended.