Serving up dishes that bring joy and peace

A La Carte

February 18, 2019

Story By: Elima Pangorang | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Raw Oysters ($12 for three pieces)

Waioli Grill and Cafe is stealing the hearts of Japanese cuisine lovers and foodies alike.

Take one step into the restaurant’s comforting and warm atmosphere, and you will be instantly filled with joy as its lovely staff greets you.

“In Japanese language,’wa‘ means peace or peaceful, and ‘ioli‘ means small house,” shares general manager Seiya Nakano. “So it’s like a peaceful small house.”

He further explains a double meaning from the Hawaiian language. “‘Wai’ is water and ‘oli‘ is happy, joy, that is why the walls are blue,” says Nakano. “(It’s) like we are in a big pool of water, and it’s like a small community where people can have fun and enjoy the food and time over here.”

A selection of skewers.

At the first dive into the menu, patrons are sure to find plenty to enjoy. If one wants to start off with a pleasant nibbler item, there is an array of skewers to relish. American Wagyu Harami ($6) presents tender chunks of marinated steak while Beef Tongue ($5.50) and Wagyu Hamburger ($5) are savory, poppable bites. Round it out with Trumpet Mushroom and Assorted Veggie ($4.50 each) and the juicy, clean pieces of each will leave diners looking forward to what’s to come.

For a main course, Bone Marrow Bibimbap ($16) and Roasted Duck Breast ($18) will have taste buds desiring more.

Bone Marrow Bibimbap ($16)

Coming out in a sizzling hot skillet, the succulent bone marrow is scraped off the bone and mixed into a steaming pile of rice containing bits of beef tongue, over-easy egg, shiso, nori and kimchee, right at the table for customers’ viewing pleasure.

The roasted duck is simple yet packed with deliciousness, and it is accompanied with vibrant roasted green onion and yuzu pepper.

Roasted Duck Breast ($18)

As an added bonus, slurp up some Raw Oysters for $12 (three pieces). These half-shell jumbo oysters are a refreshing treat served with Waioli’s signature ponzu sauce, grated daikon and green onion. It all sits atop a platter of ice for peak chilled indulgence, and is also accompanied by an assortment of fresh seaweed.

While these items are found on the dinner menu only, stop into Waioli Grill and Cafe for lunch as well. During lunch, visitors can bask in Ichiju Sansai sets, literally translated to one soup and three dishes — a traditional Japanese meal that has been an eating style in Japan for more than 1,000 years, according to Nakano.

Honolulu, HI 96815

Ilima Awards
Hawaii's Best