Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Aloha Steak HouseRestaurant Insider
July 17, 2022
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANNE LEE
ANNE LEE speaks with Aloha Steak House general manager KENNY SHIZAWA
Waikiki is home to many famous restaurants, and the group at Zetton Inc. offers six options within walking distance of each other with clever, insightful names for each entity. I recently met with Kenny Shizawa, general manager at Aloha Steak House’s new location inside Marine Surf Waikiki. This was home to the famous Matteo’s restaurant that closed in 2012.
This new location has increased the dining capacity, and also offers diners an option for outdoor seating. The aroma of sizzling steaks drifts through the open-air restaurant, as passersby stop and head right into the restaurant’s entrance.
Kenny prepared some of the restaurant’s s items for me to try, such as fresh oysters, some of the biggest and most tender that I have ever seen, as well as the Baked Waikiki, their version of the Baked Alaska, prepared tableside. It was truly a special way to end this delicious meal.
AL: How long have you been a part of Zetton Restaurants and why did you want to get in the restaurant industry?
KS: I have been with Zetton Restaurants a total of eight years — three years in Japan and then five years here in Hawaii. My grandparents owned and operated a small pub in Japan, and I remember how much fun they had. Growing up seeing that, I made up my mind that I wanted to work in this business. Sadly that pub is no longer there.
AL: Tell me about the items we’re featuring today.
KS: For appetizers, the Kona Abalone Escargot Style ($16) features Kona baby abalone chopped into cubes, and marinated with local mushrooms and sweet onions. It’s baked in the oven with homemade herb garlic butter and served with six pieces of ciabatta bread.
From the oyster bar, we have fresh Oysters from Goose Point ($26 for six) on a half-shell with homemade cocktail sauce and red wine vinegar mignonette sauce. Goose Point oysters resemble the light, salty, clean taste of ocean air, complete with a smooth follow-through.
On the ASH Surf & Turf menu, we have an 8-ounce Premium Filet Mignon and Kauai Shrimp Farm Garlic Shrimp ($65) dish. It’s one of the most popular items, featuring premium-grade filet mignon (30 days of wet-aging) with four pieces of Kauai garlic shrimp (super juicy and sweet, deep fried and tossed with original garlic butter sauce).
For dessert, there’s the Watermelon Soft Serve ($7) made with freshly squeezed watermelon juice, and mixed with vanilla soft serve base. That’s why it’s so fresh and has real watermelon flavor. We have guests walk into the restaurant just to order these to-go and enjoy it on the way to the beach.
AL: I love that you have incorporated Hawaii’s version of the Baked Alaska with the Baked Waikiki prepared tableside and flambéed. Tell me more about this dessert.
KS: The Baked Waikiki is an idea from Zetton corporate chef Keigo. We hollow out the pineapple, add coconut ice cream, passion fruit popping boba and pineapple-flavored meringue, and freeze for about two hours. But we cannot forget to flambé with pineapple dark rum. That makes this dessert more attractive and more flavorful.
AL: There is also a collaboration of craft beer with Beer Lab HI. Tell me more about it.
KS: We wanted to collaborate with a local beer company, and the can designs and their original flavors are very unique and attractive. These are limited-edition flavors and only available at our Aloha Steak House location.
The Hakea Blonde Ale is one that you can chug. It’s a light-tasting ale-style blonde with a crisp finish, sweet and bready malt flavor with a citrusy finish.
The Omakase IPA is a hazy-style IPA but very smooth and not too hoppy. It’ one of the best IPAs I have ever tried; it doesn’t taste like your traditional IPA.
AL: How did you come up with the name Aloha Steak House?
KS: We were thinking a steakhouse doesn’t have to be so formal. Since it’s Hawaii, shouldn’t there be a more casual and relaxing option? Then, with respect to Hawaiian culture, we thought a steakhouse with the aloha spirit would be a great idea.
AL: With a name like Aloha Steak House, you have to have really good steaks. Tell me about the beef that you serve.
KS: All of our steaks are wet-aged for 30 days and the beef that we purchase is from 3-year-old cows. We are also known for the biggest tomahawk steak in Waikiki — 4 pounds of “GIGA”hawk steak. It’s a 3-inch-thick bone-in rib-eye steak that’s cooked sous vide for three hours, which makes the inside super moist and juicy. We sell out pretty fast and there are limited quantities.