All I Want For Christmas Is Food

Ono, You Know

December 23, 2018

Story By: Ellise Kakazu | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

Big City Diner’s Hamburger Steak With Crispy Onions & Gravy ($14.99) is a gift editor Ellise Kakazu cannot refuse.

When my 2-year-old nephew was asked what he wants for Christmas, his response was a musubi. At first, I laughed at the thought of a child choosing a ball of rice wrapped in nori as a gift, but a few giggles later I realized that his answer perfectly epitomizes Hawaii’s culture and appreciation for food.

Here in the 50th state, food is more than a necessity, it is a symbol of our islands’ history, diversity and pride — it truly is a gift.

So maybe my nephew’s answer is actually pretty genius. Instead of searching for the newest, shiniest gadgets out on shelves, maybe the best present to give someone is his or her favorite meal.

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?

Taking this notion and running with it, I decided to treat myself to hamburger steak this week, as it is something I should’ve added on my Christmas wish list this year.


Hamburger steak is a very popular dish that can be found at many restaurants throughout the island, as it can give someone both comfort and joy, much like a home-cooked meal or a holiday.

Big City Diner’s Hamburger Steak With Crispy Onions & Gravy

Though there are countless hamburger steaks being served daily, some are simply better than the rest. And I recently discovered one that belongs in that category — Big City Diner’s Hamburger Steak With Crispy Onions & Gravy ($14.99).

The restaurant’s rendition features a hefty homemade patty made of ground beef, panko, onions, Ka Lei Eggs, herbs and spices. According to owner Lane Muraoka, the hamburger steak patties are hand-kneaded and portioned, and are made fresh every day at each Big City Diner location.

Another reason this dish is a cut above the rest is the irresistible made-in-house demi-glace that tops the hamburger patty.

Muraoka notes the demi-glace is deep and rich in flavor and different from the typical brown gravy that is usually served with hamburger steak.

The meal’s crowning glory is the deep-fried, crispy onions that top the patty. Muraoka explains the onions add a nice contrast to the tender hamburger steak.

“We wanted the different textures,” he notes.

Hamburger Steak With Crispy Onions & Gravy also comes with fresh sauteed vegetables of the day and a scoop of white or brown rice with furikake (one can substitute rice with mashed potatoes for an extra $2.29).

Hungry kamaaina wanting to bite into Big City Diner’s hamburger steak or other favorites like baby back ribs or loco moco for Christmas are in luck, as the restaurant will welcome guests on Christmas Eve and Day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

So if you still don’t know what to get your loved ones for Christmas, buy them an onolicious meal that they will never forget.


Starting off as a food truck in 2009, Yajima-ya Japanese and Local Cuisine has blossomed into a successful dine-in restaurant offering both traditional Japanese food and local favorites.

Yajima-ya Japanese and Local Cuisine’s Hamburger Steak Demi Sauce ($15 lunch). File photo

According to general manager Miha Fukumasa, the restaurant hopes to be a place where all generations, young and old, can come and enjoy a delicious meal, which is the reason Yajima-ya’s menu offers everything from Assorted Sashimi to Hamburger Steak Demi Sauce ($15 lunch).

Yajima-ya’s hamburger steak features two homemade patties consisting of beef, milk, eggs, breadcrumbs and spices, and a made in-house demi sauce that is light yet full of flavor. Fukumasa notes the hamburger patties are really tender and generously portioned.

Along with the main course, rice, miso soup, kobachi and pickles are served to guests.

If you plan on visiting Yajima-ya for dinner and want to get a taste of the restaurant’s hamburger steak and more, go for the teishoku choice of either Ichi ($19.50, two A selections) or Ni ($24.50, one A selection and one B selection), as you can select two entree choices. Some choices customers can opt for are Mushroom Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, Pork Ginger and Hamburger Steak Demi Sauce.

“We want to be a restaurant that they always want to (visit) with their family,” notes Fukumasa. “We want everybody to experience the Japanese way of service, which is omotenashi.”

With oishii food and friendly service, Yajima-ya Japanese and Local Cuisine is a gift that keeps on giving. What’s more, Yajima-ya will be filling tummies with cheer on Christmas Eve and Day during its normal business hours.

Boy, time has flown by! In about 48 hours, everyone will be up bright and early dressed in their pajamas unwrapping presents under the tree.

While the presents are nice, don’t forget the true meaning of Christmas and to be thankful for everything you have.

Merry Christmas, Dining Out ohana!

Honolulu, HI 96814

Honolulu, HI 96814

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best