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Catering to the Customer's Choice
Inside Feature

Catering to the Customer’s Choice

Story By Kelli Shiroma Photos By Lawrence Tabudlo
November 27 - December 3, 2011

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Currently located on South King Street, Fukuya Deli & Catering has served as one of Oahu’s most popular okazuyas (Japanese delicatessen) since 1939. It’s this traditional okazuya style that makes Fukuya a regular favorite among locals, according to owner Arrison Iwahiro.

  • Not only does Fukuya cater, but it also has an okazuya — an open deli where customers can customize their own lunch, choosing from a vast selection of favorites.
  • Assorted Sushi Tray
  • Arrison Iwahiro, president of Fukuya, with an assorted Mochi Tray.
  • Nori Chicken
  • Fried Chicken
  • Chow Funn
  • Shrimp Tempura
  • Shiro Musubi
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“It’s more of a family-style okazuya where you can pick and choose the items you want in your bento,” he explains. “Instead of having a set bento, you can choose whatever you want; that’s where we differ (from other businesses).”

Customer favorites tend to be the shrimp tempura ($1.45), shoyu pork ($1.80) and assorted sushi, including nori maki ($4.60) and inari (75 cents for small, $1.15 for large). The specialty rolls — teri beef ($4.60), chicken ($4.60) and hot dog ($4.35) — and musubis, especially the shiso musubi ($1.15), are also extremely popular.

“I hear a lot of people say, ‘I like that purple musubi,'” Iwahiro says, referring to the shiso musubi, which is rice sprinkled with shiso red powder. “Our mixed sushi also are always popular.”

Iwahiro states that many of the chicken dishes are popular during football season, as fans often order trays of mochiko and garlic chicken.

“Chicken sells really well, as does the shrimp, because they are easy to eat,” he says. “Popular chicken dishes include the fried chicken, mochiko chicken, furikake chicken and nori chicken. The nori chicken is fairly new.”

As the holiday season approaches, customers can take advantage of Fukuya’s catering menu. Customers can pick from a variety of chicken, salads and fish, some of which also are available on the eatery’s deli menu. Highly requested selections for catering include the assorted sushi trays — 43 ($29), 74 ($47) and 101 ($59) pieces — and assorted mochi trays, categorized in 40 ($26), 50 ($31) and 70 ($43) pieces.

“We can do holiday catering, from home parties to office parties, any type of catering,” states Iwahiro.

Even though Fukuya closes on Mondays and Tuesdays, Iwahiro says that catering services are available for large parties on those days.

“For walk-ins, we’re open from Wednesday to Sunday, but we have catering available after hours,” he confirms. “On Mondays and Tuesdays, we don’t have any walk-ins, but we do large functions.”

While catering is an essential part of the eatery today, Fukuya Deli & Catering did not begin as a catering business. Reflecting on the eatery’s history, Iwahiro recalls how Fukuya Deli & Catering — which first started in 1939 — originated as a two-person operation that closed as soon as the food ran out.

“Two people would come in the morning, cook, put it (the food) out and once it sold out, that was it,” he says. “Now, we keep producing as things go out — we keep making more tempura, chicken and everything. In the 1970s, it (Fukuya) already was transitioning into replenishing, so that took more manpower because you need people cooking while you’re selling.”

Around that time, Fukuya ventured into the catering business and started to expand into what it is today. Although Fukuya is still a popular choice for catering, Iwahiro notes that the type of events requesting their services has changed.

“Back in the day, we did a lot of weddings,” he says. “Now, they (the weddings) are all at hotels; before, they were usually at churches. During the wedding months, we would be booked; three weddings every Friday or Saturday. That’s how it was, but then everybody transitioned and times changed … that’s why we started to do funeral catering. (Now) we do a lot of funeral catering for the mortuaries.”

Regardless of the type of event, though, Fukuya still strives to provide its customers with the best possible products.

“We try to give the customer our best … we keep the quality the best we can,” Iwahiro says.

Fukuya Deli and Catering

  • Where
    • 2710 South King Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96826
  • Call
    • (808) 946-2073
  • Hours
    • 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    • Wednesday – Sunday
  • Website