An Unforgettable Dining Experience

Cover Story

February 18, 2024

Story By: Dining Out Team | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Restaurant Suntory has a long and storied history in Waikīkī. It opened on the third floor of the Royal Hawaiian Center in 1980 and is the mall’s last original tenant. In 2021, it underwent a $2 million renovation. One of the more notable upgrades was to the sushi counter. Guests can now take part in the Sushi Tokiwa experience, which features top-notch ingredients served in an atmosphere reminiscent of Japan.

There’s also an upscale lounge area and a private dining room. In addition to sushi, guests can partake of washoku and teppanyaki.

Restaurant Suntory has a reputation for delivering high-quality food, first-rate drinks and exceptional omotenashi (hospitality).

“Basically, we want to provide the most delicious dishes and best hospitality in the world,” says Restaurant Suntory assistant manager Asami Hamana.

We caught up with Restaurant Suntory sous chef Koji Yamamoto and Japanese cuisine supervisor Ryota Kawaguchi to learn more about this month’s specials.

What’s your favorite dish at Restaurant Suntory and why?

KY: The Oxtail Kamameshi ($24 a la carte; $86 as part of a four-course dinner). It’s a unique dish where we cook rice for each individual diner in a special iron pot with seasonal ingredients. The fattiness of the oxtail mixed with our delicate dashi create so much umami, it’s hard to put down your chopsticks!

RK: Our Macadamia Nut Créme Brulee ($14). It is a wonderful dish combining the rich nutty flavor of mac nuts with not-too-sweet custard, taking this popular dessert to the next level.

What can you tell us about your February specials?

KY: We always focus on local favorites, but we also try to create something new that surprises our guests when they first try it. This month, I added Tilefish with Vichyssoise Mac Nut Sauce ($24), which combines French and Japanese influences. It has so many layers of flavors and textures.

RK: I’ve always been interested in Hawaiian kiawe wood and wanted to see how I could incorporate it without overpowering the dishes we create here. Our Kiawe Smoked Salmon ($24) turned out to be amazing and I had so much fun creating it.

You also have a kamaaina special. Could you share some details about that?

KY: Our kamaaina special is very reasonably priced for the quality of ingredients. For lunch, we offer a 4-ounce washugyu steak with a sushi roll, along with a salad and miso soup ($26).

RK: We offer this kamaaina special to show our appreciation for our local diners. For dinner we have a wonderful teppanyaki course menu ($85) that includes everything from soup to seafood like shrimp and lobster, and a mouthwatering filet mignon and garlic rice.

Restaurant Suntory is also known for its drink selection. What are some of your favorite pairings?

KY: I personally love sake, so I always suggest sake and sashimi. You can never go wrong with that. But we have such a good selection of whisky, so try a highball with our tuna sashimi or sushi. You will understand why Japanese people prefer a highball over beer.

RK: Suntory whiskies were made to complement Japanese food. Add soda to bring out the layer of whisky that makes it a perfect match with any dish, from rich Wagyu beef to very delicate sashimi.

Honolulu, HI 96815

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