Ring in the New Year with Osechi

Columns Lite Bites

December 21, 2014

Story By: Yu Shing Ting |

In celebration of the New Year, Sakura Terrace Japanese Cafe is offering a special Osechi menu, featuring an assortment of traditional foods eaten on New Year’s Day in Japan.

Available for lunch and dinner from Jan. 1 to 7, the Osechi New Year’s Special costs $60 and serves two people. It includes assorted osechi appetizers (shrimp nimono, ikura, datemaki, kuromame, kurimitsuni, kazunoko, kouhaku kamaboko, wakasagikanroni and chicken wings) and nishime in one box; chirashi sushi, beef tataki and grilled miso butterfish in a second box; and sashimi, unagi ti-leaf sushi and macadamia nut tofu.

“We planned to do this for just New Year’s Day, but reservations are filling up, so we’re extending it,” says manager Jaron Takumi. “There are a lot of Japanese people who live in Hawaii, and some really miss eating osechi, so we wanted to bring it to them.”

According to Sakura Terrace executive chef Takayuki Sekine, many osechi or traditional Japanese New Year’s foods have a special meaning behind each one. For example, he says ikura and datemaki (rolled omelette mixed with fish) are thought of as foods for celebration. Also, the red color of the shrimp is for good luck, kazunoko (fish eggs) for fertility, and kurimitsuni (chestnut) and wakasagi kanroni (Japanese pond smelt) for wealth.

“In Japan, we also make something with miso for New Year’s, and a lot of people in Hawaii like butter-fish, so I decided to make miso butterfish,” he adds. “I recommend the ni awabi (abalone), which is boiled, and another New Year’s tradition.”

The restaurant also will serve the popular mochi soup known as Ozoni ($10 bowl, available Jan. 1 to 7), which Sekine says symbolizes safety and a good harvest in the New Year.

Located at 1240 S. King St., between Piikoi and Keeaumoku streets, Sakura Terrace specializes in donburi and bento items, and is known for its menu of fresh and healthy Japanese dishes with a light fusion.

Chef Sekine, who was born in Tsuchiura City, Ibaraki, Japan, grew up spending time in a sushi restaurant that his father still owns and operates today. He became an executive chef at age 30, and worked at several restaurants in Japan before moving to Hawaii in 2011. He joined Sakura Terrace last year, bringing with him cooking techniques rooted in traditional Japanese cooking. He also likes to get creative with various, sometimes non-traditional, ingredients. For example, he created Sakura Terrace’s signature appetizer, Macadamia Nut Tofu.

“My cooking philosophy is tasty food brings happiness,” notes Sekine. “We warmly invite you to come and enjoy the happiness that we offer.”

Sakura Terrace Japanese Cafe

1240 S. King St.
Daily, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (lunch); 5 to 9:30 p.m. (dinner)
Open for lunch New Year’s Eve, closed for dinner

Honolulu, HI 96814

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best