Island Flavors Attract Worldwide Customers

Columns Foodie Fare

April 21, 2013

Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Rachel Breit

The menu at Asahi Grill covers a lot of ground. From local favorites including loco moco, to American breakfast classics such as Banana Hotcakes and Japanese donburi, Asahi Grill truly has something for everyone.

“All of our chefs are very good,” says manager Victoria Sayno, adding that the chefs have added their own influences and flair to the original menu over time.

On its menu, Asahi Grill claims to be the “original home of the famous oxtail soup.” With a claim like that, how could you pass it up? For a taste of this famous flavor, try the original Famous Oxtail Soup ($13.95), or Oxtail Ramen ($9.95). Oxtail Ramen features cilantro, green onion, two pieces of oxtail, and fishcake — all in Asahi’s signature broth.

“Our oxtail recipe is originally from China,” Sayno says. “It is really special. The broth is filled with peanuts, celery and Chinese herbs. And we boil the soup for a long time.”

For more signature Asahi creations, try the eatery’s Bulgogi Don ($9.75). While this teriyaki beef dish might be standard fare for Korean restaurants, the creative chefs at Asahi have added their own signature flair to the sauce.

“It is a secret sauce that the chef created,” she says. Sayno was adamant about keeping the recipe a secret — so you’re just going to have to try the dish to experience the creation.

Asahi seems to be an expert at taking a classic dish and adding its own taste — and another example of that is Steamed Fish Fillet (Basa) ($9.95), which is flavored with ginger and a savory sauce.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Asahi Grill has a good way for diners to start their day: The Asahi Breakfast ($9.95), which comes with your choice of mahi mahi, salmon, saba, opakapaka or steak, with tossed salad, rice, miso soup, and one egg.

With all of these options, it likely will be difficult to choose just one dish. Thanks to the Combination Lunch ($15.95), you can have two items from a list that includes Spicy Chicken, Garlic Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, Kalbi, Shrimp Tempura, Grilled Salmon, Grilled Saba, or Butterfish. These items range from about $9 to $14 individually, so you’re getting a good deal.

“We just want to make our customers happy,” Sayno says.

On the Side

Asahi Grill opened in 2007 on Ward Avenue, and just in that short amount of time, it has managed to garner a strong base of regular customers.

“I love the restaurant business because of the people I meet,” says Asahi manager Victoria Sayno, who has been working in the industry for more than 20 years. “And (here) especially, we know a lot of our regular customers.”

It seems, then, that Sayno has found the perfect work environment at Asahi Grill, as the restaurant attracts a number of customers from all over the world.

Those regular customers include tourists from the Mainland, as well as from countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan and Canada. Sayno says that many international customers who frequently stay in the Islands always make sure to include time for Asahi Grill on their travel itinerary.

“The word is spreading,” Sayno says. “It’s pretty amazing.”

The restaurant, of course, is a favorite among locals, too. Sayno says that a lot of downtown workers stop by for a quick breakfast or lunch. And many locals tell their visiting friends and family that Asahi Grill is the place to go for quality local eats.

Sayno enjoys introducing new flavors to her customers from afar. Many customers from Canada, for example, have tried Oxtail Soup — and loved it.

“They eat it, and they go, ‘Where have I been? I have never tasted this food before,'” Sayno says.

“I hope everyone will come and try our food.”

Asahi Grill

515 Ward Ave.
Sunday-Thursday, 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96814

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best