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Cover Story

Odoriko’s Lasting Legacy

By Alana Folen Photos By Leah Friel
July 8, 2012

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Odoriko Japanese Restaurant opens up a world of possibilities. Located in King’s Village Shopping Center in the heart of Waikiki, this eatery — which was founded nearly 40 years ago — has become a gathering place for kamaaina and visitors alike, who wish to experience the authenticity of izakaya dining amid a traditional Japanese-style atmosphere.

Dining Out recently paid a visit to this renowned restaurant and met with general manager Hiro Takei, who explained that the act of socializing over a delicious meal and soothing drink is just as important as the quality of cuisine.

DO: As one of Waikiki’s longest-standing Japanese restaurants serving only the best in authentic cuisine, this year, Odoriko celebrates 40 years of premier service. How did the restaurant come to be?

Takei: When Odoriko first opened in 1972, we had a great connection with the local community, then the Japanese economic boom soon followed. Now, 40 years later, we continue to have the support of the local community, who we appreciate. However, 75 percent of our business is devoted to the Japanese visitor market. Odoriko is a family business founded by my parents Nobuteru and Akiko Takei. It’s actually the sister restaurant to their first restaurant, Maiko, which was originally located in the Ilikai Hotel. Currently all of our energy is focused on Odoriko. I took over as general manager in 2010.

DO: What is the concept of Odoriko? What can newcomers expect when they dine here?

Takei: What stands out about Odoriko is our dedication to providing our customers with the most authentic Japanese experience that we are able to provide — and that, of course, begins with authenticity of taste, service, ambiance and decor. Odoriko is an Izakaya-style restaurant, so we serve mostly smaller dishes that go along with drink. The environment here is really buzzing. We encourage loud laughter and the servers are taught to always display a high amount of energy. However, we’re a lot more comprehensive than the traditional izakaya-style restaurant because we offer set dinners, hot pot and a full sushi bar as well. Our restaurant is very family-friendly. We’re always mindful of presentation, but we’re not fine dining — our intent is to provide comfort food. We have a various assortment of Japanese beers and a large collection of Japanese sake as well. Sake pairs very well with sushi, sashimi and raw dishes, and we use top-grade sashimi here. Our tuna is purchased locally, often directly from the fish market. Everything is as fresh as it can be.

DO: At a quick glance the impressive menu selection is already quite apparent. What are Odoriko patrons’ top picks?

Takei: For family-oriented customers, the favorites are the set meals such as the Odoriko Set, which comes with crab, lobster and steak. Our hot pot entrees also are very filling. Yet, typically our most popular items are our fresh sushi and sashimi, and our tapas-style dishes, including kalbi, poke, grilled squid, chicken skewers and fried chicken. Odoriko offers lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and patrons love the Odoriko Special ($7.50), the King Set ($16.95), and the Spicy Tuna and Salmon Combination Don ($12.75). The King Set also is available on the kamaaina menu and is served with two pieces of sushi (shrimp and squid), three pieces of California Roll, sashimi, shrimp and vegetable tempura, edamame, sweet egg omelette, fruit, miso soup and rice. The Spicy Tuna and Salmon Combination Don is found on our regular menu, and consists of spicy tuna and spicy salmon served over rice. It’s very tasty, and kamaaina also receive 10 percent off.

DO: Odoriko is bustling with diners come dinnertime. What are popular dinner options?

Takei: We’re very busy during dinner, and popular dinner entrees are Kaisenmori ($45), a seafood sampler, which consists of half a steamed lobster, poke, cocktail shrimp, edamame, oysters and sashimi, to name a few. Kaisenmori is perfect for the indecisive diner. Then, Matsu Sushi ($36) is our most popular nigiri assortment, featuring 11 different types of seafood such as tuna, salmon, ikura, sea urchin, mackerel, shrimp — all fresh.

DO: Many customers are huge fans of the restaurant’s various of hot pot options. What are some of your hot pot recommendations?

Takei: Our Nabemono, or hot-pot dishes, are offered for lunch and dinner, and some favorite options include Shabu Shabu ($35 per order), Sukiyaki ($35 per order), Chanko-nabe ($38 per order) and Live Lobster-nabe ($45 per order). A minimum of two orders is required and come complete with an appetizer, pickled vegetables, miso soup and rice. For quick nabemono lunch options, Odoriko also features Chanko Nabe ($16.50), Shabu Shabu ($16.50) and Sukiyaki ($16.50). All come with a bowl of rice. Our standout hot pot item is Ikenabe ($45, minimum of two orders required), which features live Maine lobster and a bit of everything else — chicken, oysters, shrimp, clams, an assortment of vegetables and more. The lobster is still alive when it’s presented to you and it cooks right in front of you at your table! The broth that comes with this hot pot is amazing — it’s a shoyu-based broth.

DO: Are there some exciting plans in the works that Odoriko patrons can look forward to?

Takei: Yes, starting next month we’re going to be promoting our Odoriko rewards card. For every dollar you spend, you get one point, and when you reach a certain amount of points you receive a discount off of your bill. Also, a plan for Happy Hour is in the works and we intend that Happy Hour will start in the next couple of months.

DO: Odoriko has reached a 40 year landmark this year. What do you attribute to the establishment’s success?

Takei: The 40th anniversary of Odoriko really crept up on us — time really flies. Our family is just so grateful that we were able to do business here for this long. Our success is thanks to our customers, and we just hope that we can thank our regular customers through our promotions and by offering a rewards card. Also, we hope to bring in more of our local friends to dine here and experience what we have to offer.

Odoriko Japanese Restaurant
King’s Village Shopping Center
2400 Koa Ave., Honolulu
923.7368
Open daily, 6 a.m.-midnight
odorikohawaii.com