Hukilau Honolulu

Digest Kitchen Insider

June 2, 2012

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite restaurant? We do, and that’s why we make it a habit to visit the many talented chefs, owners and managers around town who, day in and day out, work diligently to ensure their patrons enjoy the ultimate dining experience.

This week, Dining Out drops in on Hukilau Honolulu executive chef Jason Takemura, who gives us a little taste of what’s sizzling on his menu and reminds us why, like the lyrics from the traditional mele, we all should be “going to the hukilau!”

Name: Jason Takemura
Title: Executive Chef of Hukilau Honolulu
Training/Education: Western Culinary Institute (Le Cordon Bleu)

Executive chef and part-owner Jason Takemura (at left) with restaurant manager Emerson Lewis (File photo)

Who or what inspires you as a chef/manager/ owner?

As a chef, manager and part-owner, what really inspires me most are the guests. Wearing the hat of all three titles allows me to make decisions for what is best for the guests. There are situations in most restaurants when before a chef does something, he has to clear it with the manager, who in return must clear it with the owner, and vice versa. There are a lot of restaurants out there where the chef and front manager butt heads because one side feels the burden is being put on the other. At Hukilau, that is never the case because I represent all three sides. If I am putting some burden on the other side, it would be putting it on me, and I have no problem doing that because that is what’s best for the customer. Not too often will you ever hear me say “no” to a customer. By keeping the customers happy, they will remain loyal.

Whom would you love to serve and why? What dish would you offer?

My grandpa. A lot of my inspiration comes from my grandparents. My grandpa passed away while I was on the Mainland starting my career. I wasn’t able to be here when he passed away, and so he never got to try my food as a trained and experienced chef. If I could go back and have the chance, I would make him my Oxtail Stew or Oxtail Soup. He loved soups and stews. I could picture him slurping it down like a Japanese man slurps his noodles. Our oxtail at Hukilau is very popular and I know that it would definitely put a smile on his face.

What is your favorite dish on the menu? Why?

The Hukilau Bento. Our bento changes out daily and allows us to keep everything fresh. It allows our guests to experience a little of everything as we include a salad, appetizer, entree and a dessert in our bento of the day. This helps to cut down on the dining time as well since everything comes as one course. The bento allows us as chefs to create on a daily basis.

Is there a dish that’s not on your menu, but available upon request?

Seafood Risotto! We ran this as a special a few years ago. Until this day, we always get emails or special requests when some of our regulars come in for lunch.


  • Where
    • Executive Centre
    • 1088 Bishop Street
    • Honolulu, HI 96813
  • Call
    • (808) 523-3460
  • Hours
    • Monday – Friday
    • 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
  • Notes
    • Validated parking. Happy hour daily from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Live music Thursday and Friday.

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