Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Pitch Sports BarRestaurant Insider
June 12, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
ANNE LEE speaks with founder Pitch Sports Bar partner KEITA YAMAMOTO and executive chef/partner JON TAMASHIRO
If you take a look at the types of businesses that make up SALT at Our Kakaako, there are various restaurants and shops that cater to different palates, whether dine-in or takeout. The partners who make up Pitch Sports Bar — Keita Yamamoto, Jon Tamashiro, Zenn Inoye, Adam Kuwasaki and Derrick Stevens — quickly realized that there wasn’t a local neighborhood sports bar in this rapidly growing residential area and wanted to fill the niche.
Reaching a milestone of five years this November, there have been some changes in ownership and menu options along the way, but one thing has been consistent — their resiliency to keep this concept alive.
With the leadership of executive chef/partner Tamashiro and his culinary team, now referred to as Pitch 2.0, they recently opened a sushi bar concept (formerly the Juicd Life space).
AL: How did you come up with the name Pitch?
KY & JT: Pitch is a noun for a sports ground or outdoor playing area for various sports. The term “pitch” is most commonly used in international sports, while the comparable term in American and Canadian English is “playing field” or “sports field.” Our initial goal was to provide a comfortable setting for family and friends to get together, offering typical bar fare. The entire bar trend has been changing, and we realized that in order to be able to make it in the bar scene, you have to be able to offer good food.
AL: How did you pivot from the pandemic?
KY & JT: Our entire concept of people gathering in an enclosed area was suddenly taboo. This made us rethink and revisit our business model. The kitchen was the only place we could operate and offer takeout. This made us take our culinary offerings to the next level, by working with Grant Kawasaki, a well-known local chef. He completely retrained our kitchen team and brought us into the culinary scene. Unfortunately, he passed away due to COVID. In honor of Grant, his signature menu items have his initials next to them.
AL: How did the sushi bar come to be?
KY: We were fortunate to meet Jon. He has lots of years of working in many local izakaya restaurants. You may remember him from Izakaya Kei in Pearl Kai Shopping Center. It made sense to highlight his expertise in this type of cuisine. Jon’s philosophy is that he tries to make it as simple as possible, nothing fancy and close to traditional. At the end of the day, we want to be able to keep it to our roots.
AL: What are the popular menu items that you have prepared for us today?
KY: We are preparing our popular Gyukatsu ($22), which Grant was able to create for us. It’s a rib-eye steak with Japanese panko, flash-fried so the outside is nice and crispy and the inside is soft. It’s served with homemade katsu sauce.
The 10-piece Nigiri ($45), available every day, is selected by Jon based on what fresh fish is available. Jon knows his fish. He has the ability to break down ahi. We buy it straight from the fish auction; we literally lug a giant ahi to our kitchen.
Our Hayashi Loco ($18) is made with a panko-breaded 8-ounce wagyu patty, served over rice and topped with hayashi demi (made from scratch) and two fried eggs. This is the wagyu beef patty we get from Sysco, that we also use for our Pitch burger.
Paella Fried Rice ($24) is new to our Pitch 2.0 menu. It’s steamed saffron rice, sautéed onions, bell peppers and peas, as well as a seafood medley of shrimp, clams and mussels. It’s large enough to share between two people.
Zeitaku Maki ($32), we call this our luxury roll, is made with more of the expensive cuts of fish — sea urchin, salmon roe, fatty tuna and jidori egg. We encourage you to mix the egg and pour it over the roll; very Instagramable.
Our Yama Salad ($18) is a generous assortment of fresh seafood and grated mountain yam over spring mix and ponzu.
AL: Anything else you want to share?
KY & JT: The full sushi bar and regular menus are available to order throughout the entire restaurant, whether you are on the sports bar side or sushi counter. We are expanding our sake selection to enhance our sushi offerings. We offer online ordering (pitchsportsbar.com) to be ready for pickup.
We also have a special bento menu. We are available for catering; inquire within, as we can customize your menu. We do ask that you order at least a week in advance, as many of our products we order are from Japan.