Asahi Grill is in it for the Long HaulCover Story Features
March 23, 2014
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
The foundation of the menu at Asahi Grill is island-style fare accentuated by Asian influences. And for those familiar with brok-da-mout local grinds, it’s clear that this Ward Avenue establishment is here to stay. For the past seven years, Asahi Grill has had a diversity of patrons come through its doors, as this 50-seat eatery is always packed with foodies ready to delve into good eats. Like the popular “mixed plate,” Asahi Grill caters to all cravings and is your go-to spot for your favorite local staples, such as oxtail soup.
Dining Out recently paid a visit to this award-winning restaurant, where manager Victoria Sayno welcomed us home. “Everyone is ohana here,” she says with a smile just as Asahi Grill favorites quickly fill the table before us. “We always will welcome generations of families.”
DO: Asahi Grill opened its doors in 2007, and almost immediately commanded a presence on Oahu’s restaurant scene. What would you attribute that to?
Sayno: Asahi Grill is a family-friendly restaurant, and we’ve been fortunate to serve our guests local, island-style favorites with an Asian twist. Our regulars have their go-to dishes that they love, and we also have visitors from all over the world who are repeat customers.
DO: There’s been a lot of talk about just how good the oxtail soup is — and there’s a lot of truth to that. Can you give us the scoop on this best-seller?
Sayno: Asahi Grill’s Oxtail Soup is a Kapiolani Coffee Shop original. It was so popular there, we had to continue to make our patrons happy and serve it here (Asahi Grill). Oxtail Soup ($11.95 small, $13.95 regular) is made fresh every day, and our cooks boil the oxtail for two to three hours in a clear broth garnished with Chinese herbs, Chinese parsley and green onions. The soup is based off of an original Chinese recipe and comes with a side of rice (white, brown or fried rice) and grated ginger. The number of bowls we serve each day is impressive.
DO: Mouths are definitely watering. What other signature creations is the restaurant known for?
Sayno: Our menu varies with breakfast, lunch and dinner options — yet, we want patrons to know that all items (except breakfast) are available morning, noon and night. Asahi Grill features specials for each day of the week, and on Tuesdays, for example, our customers love Baked Short Rib ($11.95) smothered in a homemade Spanish-inspired sauce.
Recently, we also introduced Pork Adobo with Asahi Grill Fried Rice ($8.50). It’s so good. And the key to making delicious adobo is to capture a balance of shoyu and vinegar. The meat is so tender, and our cooks prepare the adobo separately prior to wok-frying it with the fried rice.
Tan Tan Mein ($7.25) is another highly requested item, especially from those who love noodles. It’s a spicy ramen garnished with char siu, kamaboko, cabbage and green onions.
DO: That sounds amazing! And since the establishment opens bright and early at 6:30 a.m. daily, there’s no better place to indulge in the most important meal of the day, correct?
Sayno: Yes, breakfast is a priority that not everyone is cognizant of. But hopefully once they try our breakfast offerings, all that will change and people will start setting their alarm clocks a little earlier to take advantage of our early bird specials (available from 6:30 to 10 a.m.). We offer such great deals — the prices are very affordable. For just $4, customers receive one hotcake and one egg prepared any style. Another early bird special is Mini Island Breakfast ($5), which features one scoop of rice and one egg, with a choice of protein, be it luncheon meat, Portuguese sausage, Spam, bacon or pork links.
And until 11:30 a.m., additional breakfast items, such as French Toast ($5.50) — fresh sweet bread dipped in egg yolk, lightly battered and grilled — is available. Breakfast entrees also are accompanied by your choice of rice (an additional $2 for fried rice, an additional $2.50 for kim chee or lap cheong fried rice), hash browns or toast.
DO: For those diners who can’t decide on an entree selection, what do you recommend?
Sayno: A Combination Plate, for sure. Diners can combine any two selections from a list of entrees into one meal. Offerings include Kalbi ($14.75 a la carte), grilled Korean-style short ribs sprinkled with sesame seeds and green onion; along with seasoned Salmon ($13.50 a la carte); and Saba, lightly dried mackerel that’s salted and grilled ($11.95 a la carte). Rice, soup, tsukemono and mac or tossed salad also complete the meal.
With fish entrees on our menu, Asahi Grill caters to those who are participating in Holy Week, as well as those who choose not to eat meat.
DO: Finally, Asahi Grill is more than just an establishment with only business in mind. There’s much more meaning behind it, wouldn’t you agree?
Sayno: Of course! Here at Asahi Grill we have a longtime staff who over time have formed strong bonds with our customers. A lot of patrons are like family to us and we really enjoy serving them.
515 Ward Ave.
Sunday-Thursday, 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m.