Endless combinations of authenticity

Inside Feature

October 20, 2019

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

The Matsuzaka region of Japan is known for its prized Japanese Black cattle — the word “matsuzaka” also means “beef” — and “tei” is short for “teishoku-ya,” a humble but satisfying diner.

Therefore, Matsuzaka-Tei is a deliciously appropriate name for a casual, inexpensive restaurant whose logo is a beef cow, and whose beef is consistently spectacular, no matter what dish it’s in.

The first local franchise of this Japanese chain was opened at Shirokiya’s Yataimura Food Court in 2013. Two years later, in September 2015, Matsuzaka-Tei opened its 1,200-square-foot Pearl City location, which seats 46 guests in a bright and cheerful dining room. The Pearl City location became its home base after Shirokiya’s closure in March 2016.

Earlier this year, Matsuzaka-Tei had a soft opening of its new location in Kalihi, converting an old used car lot into a fun and eclectic space. Offering authentic Japanese food in a casual setting, this unique eatery boasts a fine selection of classic rice bowls — and a few options you won’t find elsewhere.

“You can also enjoy our playful take on traditional beef rice bowls, like the Gyoza Beef bowl and Takoyaki Beef Rice bowl,” says president and owner Masato Sunada.

Those takoyaki are scrumptious, by the way. Each is a mixture of wheat, diced octopus legs, cabbage, and green onions, all deep-fried and topped with the restaurant’s own takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise and seaweed flakes. Diners can also order extra on the side — in quantities of three, five, eight, 10, or even

15 takoyaki, if you simply cannot get enough. Another wonderful dish, the Ontama Beef Rice Bowl includes Matsuzaka-Tei’s version of ontama eggs. “Ontama” is short for “onsen tamago,” or “hot spring egg.” Traditionally, ontama eggs were cooked in Japan’s sub-boiling geothermal springs, slowly poached to a silky, custardy consistency. “At Matsuzaka-Tei we have recreated the onsen tamago without the hot spring, and paired it with our sukiyaki beef, for what we think is one of the most perfect combinations,” says Sunada.

For a combination meal, Tempura Beef Udon ($12.45) is a filling option comprising Matsuzaka-Tei’s about-to-be-legendary sukiyaki beef with one of Japan’s most traditional noodle dishes. “Our soup base is made from katsuo (bonito) broth, which creates a deep flavor,” says Sunada. The udon is served with two pieces of shrimp tempura and garnished with green onions. “For those who like it spicier, we recommend sprinkling some shichimi peppers over it!” adds Sunada.


With a size to fit every appetite, Matsuzaka-Tei’s Ontama Beef Rice Bowl (mini/$7.50; medium/$10; large/$12) is the restaurant’s most popular dish and a staff favorite. It’s served with those very special Ontama eggs, sukiyaki beef, and onion, on top of a rice bowl. The delicately delicious beef is stewed in the restaurant’s special sukiyaki sauce, a blend of shoyu, sugar, sake and mirin.


There are few things that are tastier than Japanese curry, and a bite of Matsuzaka-Tei’s yummy Beef Curry Rice Bowl (mini/$7.50; medium/$10; large/$12) is irrefutable proof. It’s made with the restaurant’s house-marinated beef — delectably tender and sweet — and house-blended curry sauce, for another great combination dish that you’ll simply love.


This poppin’ bowl (mini/$8.50; medium/$11; large $13) is Matsuzaka-Tei’s playful take on the traditional beef rice bowls created by owner Masato Sunada. Combining Osaka’s soul food, the Takoyaki, with the restaurant’s popular beef rice bowl, the Takoyaki Beef Rice Bowl is an unique dish, filled with complex and interesting flavors.


Matsuzaka-Tei’s Kalihi restaurant will celebrate its Grand Opening tomorrow, on Monday, Oct. 21. Akira Suzuki is managing the Kalihi location. To the side of its kitchen, the cinderblock walls hum with vibrant murals by local artist Akro Knacks. “Come see our Bob Marley and other cool wall art by Akro @akro0!” urges president and owner Masato Sunada.

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