Keeping The Dream AliveCover Story
September 2, 2018
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
Year 1935 was exciting and productive for the Territory of Hawaii.
For starters, the first commercial flight from the U.S. mainland, a Pan American Clipper, arrived in Honolulu, carrying the world’s first transpacific airmail on its return trip to California. A scientist shot the earliest color footage of a volcano at Mauna Loa’s Mokuaweoweo Crater, capturing stunning images of giant lava fountains on Kodachrome film. And the first installment of Hawaii Calls was broadcast live from Waikiki to a radio audience that would grow to millions of listeners around the world.
Also, on School Street in Honolulu that year, a young couple launched a charming restaurant with a few tables for guests and a handful of plate lunches that cost less than a dollar. Their restaurant, Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen, would ultimately outlive Pan-Am, Hawaii Calls, and even Kodachrome.
As Sekiya’s approaches its 85th year, the restaurant continues to roll with culinary trends and welcome new flavors that please customers, while honoring tradition with a menu filled with timeless local favorites. According to manager Deanna Hara, great-granddaughter of the restaurant’s founders, Sekiya’s Oxtail Soup ($17.95) is popular among longtime regulars, a true Hawaiian classic.
“Some restaurants put a lot of stuff in their oxtail soup, but ours really highlights the oxtail,” says Hara.
Four generous pieces are included in each bowl, which also contains classic island oxtail ingredients like orange peel, peanuts and mustard cabbage. It’s garnished with cilantro and ginger, and accompanied by rice, tsukemono and hot tea.
Guests also enjoy Sekiya’s Pork Chops ($19.95), a hefty plate consisting of two large chops that are lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, fried and served on a bed of fluffy rice with miso soup and tsukemono.
Regulars will be happy to hear that Sekiya’s is bringing back its vaunted Andagi Dog ($1.95). The restaurant’s delightful version of a corn dog is made with the slightly sweet batter used to make Okinawan andagi donuts. It will only be available during the restaurant’s okazuya hours, which are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.
Reflecting changing times and tastes, a few brand-new menu items are being added for September.
“We have a lot of vegan and vegetarian guests, and many of our recipes use our dashi, a shrimp-based bone broth,” says Hara. “So we’re going to start offering Vegetarian Miso, priced the same as our regular miso ($1.79 cup, $2.99 bowl).”
Excitingly, Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen will begin offering a delicious new dessert item this month, one that will appeal to practically any palate, whether herbivore, omnivore, or somewhere in between — Mochi Coconut Creams. These cool bites are dairyand gluten-free, and available in five different flavors — green tea, coffee, chocolate, mango and chocolate raspberry. Hara says her family discovered the dessert at a food and beverage trade show. “They taste almost like haupia and we loved them,” she says. Guests may choose two mochi for $4.95.
It’s been almost 85 years since the Sekiyas opened their restaurant. Thanks to their hardworking heirs, the delicious tradition continues.
Making Mondays Better
Age has its privileges, and at Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen, that means a generous senior discount! Every Monday, all day long, the restaurant offers a 10-percent senior discount to guests 65 and older (for dine-in only). “Many people still don’t know that we offer a senior discount on Mondays,” says manager Deanna Hara. Best of all, the discount is applicable to the total bill for everybody in the senior’s party.
Beating The Odds
According to Inc. magazine, only about 13 percent of family businesses are retained by their originating families for more than 60 years. Astonishingly, Sekiya’s Restaurant & Delicatessen is 84 years young and still is thriving at its location on Kaimuki Avenue, where the restaurant relocated in the 1950s. And it’s still a family affair. It now is owned and operated by members of the third and fourth generations of the Sekiya ohana!