Sign up for news and special offers from Dining Out
Inside Feature

Savor it All at Sekiya’s

By Lindsey Appleton Photos By Nathalie Walker
November 30, 2014

See more articles from

When looking for a place to chow down, it can be difficult to decide on a restaurant unless you’ve already tried the food or know some one who has. You want something relatively affordable with good-sized portions, tasty and, if you have keiki, kid-friendly. In a world full of weird sauces and unpronounceable ingredients, it’s reassuring to find an eatery with food you both recognize and love.

Located on Kaimuki Avenue, Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen exceeds those criteria with almost 80 years of loyal customers, a sizeable menu and wallet-friendly prices.

“Our customers are like family,” says Lynn Ky, who’s been the restaurant’s general manager for 22 years. “Sekiya’s is a part of their families too — part of their livelihood. Our customers will drive out from Waianae, and those who have moved away make Sekiya’s their first pit stop the second they land and their last stop before they go. We may take one day off for Thanksgiving, and the next day they are at the door. They’re hungry for our food.”

Sekiya’s features a local, Japanese delicatessen, which, for its steadfast fan base, means myriad consistent dishes that deliver tasty morsels that are both culturally nostalgic and good for the soul. Originally “School Delicatessen,” Sekiya’s became famous for its homemade saimin in an authentic dashi (broth). Since 1935, however, Sekiya’s has expanded its menu to include a variety of local comfort foods, Japanese favorites, and a large catering menu.

Ky suggests building your own mix-and-match party platter from the a la carte okazu menu. Design your own arrangement, for example, combines Shrimp Tempura, Corned Beef Hash Tempura, Norimaki and Inari Sushi to create one collective tray of crowd favorites (prices vary). Like everything at Sekiya’s, the tempura and sushi are made fresh daily using secret family recipes.

For your next catered event, try Sekiya’s flavor-filled Fried Noodles (3 pounds, $15) or its garlicky Chow Fun (3 pounds, $18). If your guests are more along the carnivorous line, order a tray full of Sekiya’s popular Crispy Garlic Chicken ($25) or the light and crunchy Ahi Katsu ($26). Ky also recommends trying the restaurant’s well-known Marinated Fried Chicken (8 cutlets, $25), which is marinated overnight in a blend of shoyu, sugar, garlic and ginger to attain perfectly tender and flavorful meat, before being coated in potato starch and fried for a Sekiya-style crunch.

If you’re not looking to cater, Sekiya’s has you covered with a large daily menu. Slurp up a customer favorite — Oxtail Soup ($14.95), served with rice, tsukemono and hot tea. Or bite into a beloved local dish: Loco Moco ($12.25).

“We have the best gravy around,” boasts Ky. “It’s an 11-hour process to get it down to the perfect consistency and flavor. We’ve used the same family recipe for 80 years, so our gravy is what people ask for.”

For dinner, get Sekiya’s Combination Special, where you can craft your own two-item dinner for only $15.95. Ky and her staff even have the after-school crowd covered with a bento special for a limited time. For only $5.50, get a bento packed with rice, shoyu chicken, luncheon meat with pineapple sauce, teriyaki hot dog and stir-fried string beans; or rice, shoyu chicken, barbecued meat, shrimp tempura and a teriyaki hot dog. To complement your bento, splurge on Orange Freeze, which tastes smooth and frothy like a creamsicle.

With the holiday season upon us, give the gift of a Sekiya’s certificate, share a delicious and filling party platter, or come in to enjoy the newly refurbished dining area.

“The Sekiya family grew up eating and making these recipes,” says Ky, “and for almost 80 years we’ve been serving it to our customers.”

Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

2746 Kaimuki Ave., Honolulu
732-1656
Sunday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.