Japanese Restaurant Aki
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Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite restaurant? Well, much credit goes to the many chefs, owners and managers who work diligently day in and day out to make sure Hawaii’s diners have a top-notch dining experience.
This week, Dining Out gets the inside scoops from Japanese Restaurant Aki’s executive chef Shoichi Kosaka, who gives us a little taste of Japanese Restaurant Aki and shares just what fuels his culinary drive.
NAME Shoichi Kosaka
TITLE Executive Chef at Japanese Restaurant Aki
TRAINING/EDUCATION Eleven years training and working in traditional izakaya-style Kyoto restaurants
What inspired you to pursue a career in the culinary world? I knew I wanted to be a chef at a very young age. I have loved cooking since the first time I tried it, and have been inspired by my dream to be an executive chef ever since. As soon as I graduated from high school, I started chasing my dream and got a job at one of the best fine-dining restaurants in Kyoto that specialized in very traditional-style Japanese food. It was there that I received my first culinary training and learned about the restaurant business. My inspiration since then has always been to keep learning and improving, and to give diners the best experience.
What’s your most popular dish? The most popular item I create is sushi. We recently started offering a special sushi menu at Japanese Restaurant Aki because customers were requesting it so often. I take pride in the quality of the sushi that I make, and try to keep the sushi we serve as traditional as possible to bring the best of Japan to Honolulu. I also have seen the increase in popularity for Nimono, or traditional Japanese simmered side dish, which customers always praise.
Is there a dish that you create that’s not on your menu, but available upon request? Our new sushi menu was, in fact, created because so many of our customers asked their server if sushi could be made for them by special request. As a result, we now have a nightly sushi menu that features clean and simple favorites, as well as items that are constantly changing.
What is the biggest compliment you’ve ever received as a chef? Working in Japan, I never had the opportunity to interact with customers at the restaurant. Now, working at Japanese Restaurant Aki, I am behind the sushi bar, in and out of the kitchen and interacting with customers throughout the evening. It is such an honor to hear compliments of any kind from them while I work, and it’s a completely new experience for me. I can’t say that any compliment has felt better than the other. It’s always such an incredible feeling.
If you could serve food to a celebrity, who would it be and why? What dish would you serve? I would love the chance to serve President Obama here in Hawaii on one of his trips. I would definitely want to make him his own Obama sushi roll. I’ll have to start thinking about what would be in one of those!
Japanese Restaurant Aki
1427 Makaloa St., Honolulu
Daily, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.