Service with a smile

Cover Story

May 15, 2022

Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

(From left) Kabuki Restaurant & Delicatessen server Keri-Ann Oshiro, general manager John Afong and server Setsuko Nomi display the good eats and libations available at the establishment.

More than two years after taking over Kabuki Restaurant & Delicatessen at Waimalu Shopping Center, general manager John Afong and his veteran culinary and service team are thankful for the loyal and new customers who have supported the business throughout and after emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The electrical contractor by trade wanted to open a dining establishment and teamed up with business partner Randall Hayashi to help make the dream a reality. The duo “looked into the numbers” and eventually took over in October 2019.

Yose Nabe (call for cost)

“Since I frequent bars and restaurants all the time and have many close friends that are in the restaurant industry, it was a natural progression and familiar industry for me,” Afong says. “I heard that the owner of Kabuki was ready to retire but couldn’t find anyone interested in taking over. The style of cuisine is basic, old-style Japanese food with a lot of different options, all prepared with traditional cooking methods.”

Kabuki’s deli and okazuya service is available seven days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and guests can enjoy local favorites the helped the restaurant earn first-place honors for “Best Okazuya” in the 2021 edition of Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii’s Best people’s choice awards.

Beef Tofu ($17.50)

Guests can also build a lunch plate from more than 20 different items (prices vary), including cone sushi, which diners describe as “ginormous, it’s huge!” Deep-fried halibut is another customer favorite, as are marinated chicken and konbu maki — a seaweed wrap with pork, carrots and gobo — and other daily specials rotated throughout the week.

Kabuki is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) and dinner (5-8:30 p.m.) service to complement the daily okazuya offerings.

Kabuki’s Combination Teishoku ($25.50) is a longtime favorite of diners for lunch and dinner, as the full set meal includes soup, rice, tsukemono and assorted tempura. Diners may then select two main items, including Saba, Beef Teriyaki, Tonkatsu, Fried Scallops, Chicken Teriyaki and Misoyaki Butterfish, before adding one’s choice of Sashimi or Oden.

Combination Teishoku ($25.50)

Beef Tofu ($17.50) is a popular lunch selection that features beef, assorted fresh vegetables, and tofu all in a sukiyaki-style sauce served with rice and tsukemono.

Chawanmushi, which is available as part of multiple set dishes at Kabuki, is one of Afong’s favorites, as egg custard is paired with bamboo shoots, kamaboko, green onions and chicken.

Chawanmushi (part of some set menus)

Sushi chef Masa Nagamine prepares an assortment of ono items, including the Nama Chirashi Bowl ($26.95) with a slew of seafood, including maguro, fresh hamachi, fresh salmon, saba, hokkigai clams, tobiko and shiitake mushrooms served over sushi rice; based on availability, seared ahi is also included.

Afong explains that tabletop cooking is still not available at Kabuki due to the intense cleaning involved, however, he notes that the option might return in the future.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, business slowed down, but we are so grateful to our regular faithful customers, as well as new guests every day, who supported us and continue to enjoy our food, and were patient as we implemented protocols to keep everyone safe,” Afong says.

98-020 Kamehameha Hwy, Aiea, HI 96701

Ilima Awards
Hawaii's Best