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Japan meets Hawaii

Cover Story

June 27, 2021

Story By: Lianne Bidal Thompson | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

Taiki Kawai, executive chef and owner of Akira Japanese Restaurant, wants readers to know that his establishment reopens dine-in on July 1. L. Tabudlo Photo

The concept of kaiseki involves using the freshest ingredients, fitting the place and the season.

On July 1, Akira Japanese Restaurant enters a new season, so to speak, when it reopens for in-person dining. The eatery, helmed by chef Taiki Kawai, had converted to an all-takeout operation during the pandemic, offering bentos, donburi and sushi, among other Japanese favorites.

Deep Fried Lobster with Arare ($15)

With the switch to an omakase (“tasting”) menu, diners will get an up-close and personal chance to experience Kawai’s culinary artistry again. The chef, who hails from Japan, arrived in the islands and landed a job at New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, where he eventually rose to the role of head chef. He later served as executive chef at Sushi Izakaya Shinn.

Beef Tataki Onion Salad ($10.50)

“We have traditional Japanese dishes with local ingredients,” states Kawai. “The dishes are very artistically prepared. Local customers like the high quality and uniqueness of my dishes.”

Ahi Poke ($9.50)

He adds that the omakase menus available after July 1 will include “eight kinds of nigiri sushi and eight kinds of dishes.” True to the kaiseki style, it will be a set menu and the selection will depend on what’s freshest on that day.

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