Merging the Traditional with the New
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When asked what makes Nuuanu Okazuya unique from other local okazuyas, owner Mark Kitagawa mentions the food … along with other characteristics of the homey eatery.
“We’re open seven days a week and we take plastic — Visa, Mastercard and debit cards,” Kitagawa says. “We also specialize in fishcakes.”
Established by the Nagamine family about 30 years ago, Nuuanu Okazuya is well known for its local and Japanese “comfort food,” according to Kitagawa, who was born and raised in Hawaii and has been in the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years.
“I noticed a decline in okazuyas (Japanese delicatessens) in Honolulu that I grew up with and I wanted to keep that tradition going,” he says of his motivation to partner with the Nagamines in 2007. “We feature food that I grew up with.”
Nuuanu Okazuya provides customers with a wide-ranging menu, which can be found on the eatery’s website, nuuanuokazuya.com. However, manager Johnathan Mosley notes that not all items listed are made daily.
“Our menu gives you an idea of the extent of what we cook,” he says. “On any given day, you’ll see some of that, but it’s not necessarily the same day after day.”
In addition to its variety of fish-cakes — available with ingredients such as salmon ($1.25), shrimp and onion ($1.25) and vegetable ($1) — Nuuanu Okazuya also is known for its Furikake Chicken Katsu ($3.50), Kobu Maki ($2.15) and Andagi (prices vary).
“I have 80-plus flavors of andagi that I make,” says Mosley, referring to choices such as German Chocolate, Macadamia Nut and Li Hing Mui.
“Johnathan constantly makes new flavors of andagi,” adds Kitagawa.
Andadog ($1) — similar to a corn dog — is another customer favorite.
“Andadog comes in three options: spicy, sweet mustard or traditional,” Mosley says.
Musubis also are ordered frequently at the eatery, which provides traditional Spam ($1.50) and nori (80 cents) musubis, as well as more unique creations, including the ever-popular Shrimp Tempura Musubi ($2.15) and Fried Rice Musubi ($1.25).
“Right now, we have three flavors (for our Shrimp Tempura Musubis) — sweet chili, sweet mustard and teri miso,” Kitagawa says.
Other customer favorites are the eatery’s saimin — available in small ($4) and large ($4.75) sizes — as well as Kimpira Gobo ($2.50).
The majority of items on Nuuanu Okazuya’s menu are a la carte, with the exception of Daily Bento ($6), which comes with rice, an omelet, Spam, Big Island Portuguese sausage, fish, furikake chicken and Kabocha pumpkin slice or Kimpira Gobo. Kitagawa says that individuals also have the option of ordering custom bentos. Plate specials ($7.85) — featuring mac salad, two scoops of rice and a choice of entrees such as Curry Chicken Katsu, Hamburger Steak and Teriyaki Beef — are available as well.
No meal is complete without dessert, and Kitagawa notes that the eatery provides unique choices for its customers.
“We have Lilikoi Bars, Lemon Bars, Carrot Cupcakes, Energy Bars and Assorted Cookies,” he states. “They all come from my cousin on the Big Island, so you won’t be able to find these here in Honolulu. Energy Bars are extremely popular.”
These desserts, which aren’t listed on the eatery’s menu, cost about $5.
Most of the orders at Nuuanu Okazuya are takeout, according to Kitagawa, who says that catering orders are available.
“We have a small catering menu listed on our website, but if customers want to do a small catering function, we work with them, as far as what they want on the menu,” he says.
- 1351 Nuuanu Avenue
- Honolulu, HI 96817
- (808) 533-6169
- Monday – Friday
- 5 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- 5:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Street parking available.