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Steve Uyehara

By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
July 29, 2012

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Nothing says comfort food more than the scrumptious local grinds found at Nuuanu Okazuya. Open from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays, many are waking up early to feast on the eatery’s renowned local and Japanese fare.

No newbie to early mornings is Steve Uyehara, co-anchor on Hawaii News Now’s Sunrise morning show. His day starts as early as 2 a.m. when the alarm goes off, then he’s live on-air from 4:30 to 9 a.m. Recently, Uyehara took time from his busy schedule to catch a quick lunch with us at Nuuanu Okazuya for this week’s Dining with the Stars.

“This is my first time to Nuuanu Okazuya. It’s very small and cozy,” Uyehara says. “I didn’t know what to order because there are so many different things to choose from, but luckily a lot of loyal customers helped me decide on the best selections.”

Verdict? “The food is fantastic! I’ll definitely be here again for lunch,” he says with a smile.

Owner Mark Kitagawa wasted no time filling a plate with the restaurant’s signature favorites including Furikake Chicken Katsu, Teri Beef Hamburger, Fried Saimin, Nishime and Stuffed Bittermelon.

“It’s so hard to pick a favorite, but I think the Furikake Chicken Katsu stands out. It has a very bold taste and it’s sweet, but not too sweet where it’s overwhelming. The katsu is very crunchy, just how I like it. The fried saimin also is very comforting and goes well with everything.

“Nuuanu Okazuya brings me back to my childhood — okazuya was big for me growing up,” says Uyehara, a local boy who grew up in Aiea. “Whenever we’d have field trips, my mom would let us pick up food at the okazuya. I used to love picking out certain musubis, fried chicken and shrimp tempura.”

A devout lover of food, Uyehara admits he doesn’t have the most sensitive palate, but says cooking for his family has definitely helped turn him into a tried-and-true “foodie.”

Uyehara has been with KGMB9 since 2000, and throughout his career he has had the opportunity to meet many renowned individuals and be a part of legendary events, including local golfer Tadd Fujikawa’s run at the Sony Open and Michelle Wie turning pro. However, the most pinnacle moment of Uyehara and wife Liz Chun’s life so far would have to be the birth of their 7-month-old son, Jace.

“Jace and I share the same bedtime. I try to get to bed by 8:30 p.m.,” Uyehara says with a laugh. “Waking up in the morning is the toughest thing. Then you get into work and you start feeding off of everyone’s energy — from the producers to the production staff. Everyone has a common goal: We’re going to have fun, work hard and put together a great show. I’ve been on the morning show for five years and I love it!”

Nuuanu Okazuya

1351 Nuuanu Ave., Honolulu
533.6169
Monday-Friday, 5 a.m.-1 p.m.
Saturday, 5:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sunday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.
nuuanuokazuya.com
Note: Street parking available