Savory Steaks Made With AlohaDining With the Stars
August 16, 2020
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ALOHA STEAK HOUSE
Dining with MAKI KONIKSON at ALOHA STEAK HOUSE
Tucked away on the first floor of the Aqua Oasis Hotel on Lewers Street in Waikiki, you will find one of the tastiest and most affordable tomahawk steaks in Hawaii at Aloha Steak House. I had the pleasure to share this with my friend Maki Konikson — and just to clarify her name is Maki and not Maki-Ko.
Many times she is referred to as Hawaii Maki-San, Ambassador of Hawaii to Japan, bridging the gap to the Japanese whether they are tourists or locals, to all of the best that Hawaii has to offer. Not only is she famous, but she is also a local business owner here in Hawaii. She knows firsthand how our economy and restaurants are suffering without the tourist traffic.We sat down to talk story about what makes this restaurant one of her go to places and learned a lot about the Zetton restaurant group from Makoto “Mild” Hasegawa, director of operations.
AL: How has the pandemic affected restaurants?
MK: For restaurants here in Hawaii, I know how hard businesses are suffering without the tourist traffic. A lot of retail locations have still shut its doors and still haven’t opened. All the restaurants are definitely impacted, so while we were on lockdown, I went to over 55 restaurants and ordered takeout from them and showed support by posting on my Instagram. Now, we are trying to get the word out about takeout and dine-in options. It’s unbelievable to see how quiet Waikiki is.
AL: Maki-San, Aloha Steak House is one of your favorite restaurants. Can you tell me why?
MK:We are sharing the 2-pound Bone-in Ribeye Tomahawk Steak ($69 for kamaaina). The quality is outstanding. It is huge and would feed at least three people. Reservations for this is highly recommended in advance, as it could sell out. They also have an additional 15 percent off food items for locals (excludes tomahawk, drinks and happy hour menu). Locals need to try this out. It’s affordable and delicious! Also, Truffle French Fries ($12). They actually shave real truffle on the fries, it’s not truffle oil. The Demi-Tama Hamburg Steak ($13) is served with rice. My daughter (born and raised here in Hawaii) and her college friends love this dish. We also ordered the Corn Soup ($5) made with Kahuku corn. It’s very thick, sweet and good. This soup is what I grew up eating. We also ordered the Honey Cheesecake ($9). The combination of this cheesecake, honey and Gorgonzola cheese makes you feel like you are eating brie.
AL: Aloha Steak House is open for in-room dining and takeout. What measures are in place for the safety of guests and staff?
MH: We do a temperature check when guests come to the restaurant, we ask for a contact number, we have outside dining options, and we require masks for our staff and guests. We offer curbside pick up for convenience. Call ahead and order, and we offer room delivery to guests staying at Aqua Oasis Hotel.
AL: Aloha Steak House is part of Zetton Inc. How did each restaurant get its name?
MH: Paris Hawaii was named when our owner was in Paris, France, dining at chef Yuya’s popular restaurant. He loved his food so much, he brought chef Yuya to Hawaii and opened up Paris Hawaii. Goofy was named after a popular surf spot Bowls, where a lot of goofy-footer’s like to surf. Our motto there is, “After you enjoy the goofy waves, come to Goofy and enjoy our food.” For Heavenly, our owner envisioned a girls concept, where a woman in her late 20s to early 30s, traveled to every beach town around the world, and comes to live here in Hawaii. Heavenly is her home, where she invites guests to try cuisine from her travels around the different surfing destinations around the world. Our owner had asked chef Keigo and I, when building the concept of Heavenly, to think like a woman named Cathy. The menu is more healthy with smoothies and vegan/vegetarian items. At Aloha Steak House, we wanted to make it more accessible. Our boss said, think beach and beef. You can dine here like you are staying at a beach house, dressed casual and have beef served with aloha. For Zigu, zi is ground and gu is eat in Japanese, this translates to local-grown products. At our flagship restaurant, Aloha Table (the first location was open in Japan) the Hawaiian muumuu coffee that we served was so popular that our guests said you should open in Hawaii. And that is how we started here.
AL: What is the mission statement for Aloha Steak House and Zetton Inc.?
MH: We like to develop restaurants in neighborhoods and adapt to the culture surrounding us to contribute to society and give back to the community.
AL: Is there something unique about the restaurant that readers wouldn’t necessary know?
MH: Our founder Ken Inamoto was a huge fan of Ultraman, an old Japanese cartoon series. Ultraman would fight monsters every week, and he would always beat the monsters, but the monster that was the only one that beat Ultraman was Zetton. That’s how Zetton Inc. was named. Ironically in kanji, zet is tongue and ton is drink, which translates to food and drink. At each of our restaurants, all of the wall art was done by us, the staff. We also made it very trendy and Instagram-worthy. We have logos on the table for each restaurant respectively.