Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: RinkaRestaurant Insider
March 10, 2019
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
Welcome to the first serving of Dining Out’s new feature, Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee. She is the Honolulu Star-Advertiser sales team’s resident foodie and Dining Out‘s newest restaurant ambassador. Join her here each week as she introduces the freshest island eateries as well as many of your local favorites. Get the latest eating trends, meet the most interesting chefs and find out where people are flocking to for the best deals in unique cuisine and fun dining experiences.
ANNE LEE Speaks with general manager TAKAAKI NAKAJIMA
Over the years, Kakaako has transformed into a hip, vibrant home to many of Hawaii’s artists, restaurateurs and companies. In fact, the area recently welcomed a new resident — Rinka — to the ohana earlier this month.
Seamlessly settling into the Aeo tower on Queen Street, Rinka is already serving its guests authentic, quality Japanese cuisine. Though the restaurant is still in its soft opening stage, guests can expect nothing less than an outstanding dining experience.
According to general manager Takaaki Nakajima, Rinka’s goal is to bring a taste of The Land of the Rising Sun to the island, while providing top-notch service within a welcoming environment.
The Japanese restaurant made its debut on Kapiolani Boulevard in 2013 and has since captured the palates and hearts of many foodies. Rinka recently closed its doors at Kapiolani to start a fresh chapter in Kakaako — an exciting venture for both the company and its loyal customers.
With a new location and fresh look, Rinka is ready to “wow” its old and new customers. Sitting down with Nakajima earlier this week, it is quite clear that this restaurant and its dishes are the real deal.
AL: What makes Rinka stand out from other Japanese restaurants on the island?
TN: We try our best to provide a comfortable atmosphere for our customers and traditional Japanese food.
AL: What are some of Rinka’s specialties or customer favorites?
TN: Fresh raw fish (sashimi and sushi), and Simmered White Fish Spinach Soup. First, we need to boil all the spinach, then we strain out all the water. Next, we boil the white fish in our main soup. Once the fish is finished cooking, we remove it from the main soup and set it on the side. Then, we add the spinach and mix in cornstarch to get a creamy consistency. Finally, we plate by placing the fish in a bowl and adding the soup and garnish.
AL: Does Rinka have a specific motto or mission it runs by?
TN: Our mission is to provide high quality customer service and delicious, authentic Japanese food.
AL: What is one dish customers must try at Rinka?
TN: Japanese Croquette with Abalone, which is a very creamy homemade white sauce croquette that is served in the shell of an abalone.
AL: If you had to choose one thing to eat every day for an entire year, what would it be and why?
TN: Rice and miso soup because these are classics.
Japanese Croquettes with Abalone
• 3 cups of chopped Hawaiian abalone
• 2 large onions chopped
• 1 pound of shiitake mushrooms chopped
• 2 1/2 cups of flour
• 1 stick of butter
• 2 gallons of milk
• panko breadcrumbs
First you need to chop the onions, Hawaiian abalone, and shiitake mushrooms into bite sized cubes.
Next, take 2 1/2 cups of flour and put it in a large pot and cook on high with one large stick of butter. Once everything has melted and combined, add 2 gallons of milk — add in milk 1 cup at a time and slowly mix. Once half the milk is added, you can now add the vegetables and abalone, and season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the milk in and let the mixture cool for about two hours or until firm. When everything is cooled, put the mix back in the abalone shells, dip in an egg mixture, coat with panko breadcrumbs and then deep-fry.