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As many families gather today to celebrate and show thanks to the mothers in their lives, Terry Kakazu, co-owner of HASR Bistro, reflects with a particularly joyful heart.
“My mother was the reason why I started this place,” says Kakazu, referring to her successful European-American, family-style restaurant.
After immigrating to Hawaii, Kakazu’s mother, Young Ok Oh, opened her own restaurant, Young’s House of Fine Foods, the first of many to come. As a young girl, Kakazu remembers helping her mother with the restaurant’s daily operations.
“Since I was 12 years old, I have been a restaurateur,” explains Kakazu. “The food business has always been a part of my childhood.”
Fast forward many years later and Kakazu now approaches the one-year anniversary of her newest culinary venture, HASR Bistro, a quaint country-style bistro in downtown Honolulu. “We offer fine dining quality and dishes but in a casual setting with reasonable prices,” says Kakazu.
After the opening of her thriving wine store HASR Wine Company in 2005, Kakazu decided to dedicate her restaurant with the same name, which stems from an acronym meaning “highly allocated, spoiled rotten,” Kakazu explains, “People would call me that because they knew I could get access to certain wines that nobody else could.”
The bistro features an array of traditional European dishes, from risotto to pasta to slow-cooked meats and seafood. Led by renowned chef Rodney Uyehara, HASR Bistro utilizes rich, concentrated sauces to provide bold flavors.
“We grow our own herb garden right outside the restaurant,” says Uyehara. “So, at any given time, we have unlimited access to culinary gems such as chives, thyme, tarragon, rosemary and fresh mint.”
Standout dishes include Osso Buco ($18) lunch entree, a dish composed of braised Wisconsin veal cheeks with a Hamakua mushroom risotto in a natural glaze sauce. For dinner, the chef recommends ordering Braised Short Rib ($26) entree, which features a similar risotto alongside a pestocrusted bone marrow.
Seafood lovers will appreciate the restaurant’s daily specials, which oftentimes feature a special catch of the day. For something year-round, the bistro’s Seafood Pan Roast ($28) offers scallop, prawn, crab, calamari, mussels, clams and fish in a chili saffron tomato cream broth.
“We cook everything a la minute, meaning to order,” says Uyehara. “Instead of pre-making certain parts of the dish, we begin the process as soon as the order comes in, which allows for vastly better quality of food and multi-layered flavors.”
In addition to lunch and dinner, HASR Bistro also offers appetizers and small plates from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. The restaurant regularly hosts complimentary wine tasting events, as well as live music by entertainers such as Dave Toma and Gail Mack Duo. Diners may purchase any wine from HASR Wine Company and bring it to the bistro with no corkage fee.
Although located in the heart of downtown Honolulu, HASR Bistro promises diners a completely new dining experience.
“When you come here, you momentarily forget where you are and get transported to another European country or Napa Valley,” says Kakazu. “It’s comfort food at its absolute best.”
31 N. Pauahi St., Honolulu
Open for lunch Monday– Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Afternoon eats offered Tuesday– Saturday, 2:30-5:30 p.m., and dinner Tuesday–Saturday, 5:30-9 p.m.