Waikiki Yokocho Grand Opening Gala

This past Tuesday evening, November 29, 2016, VIP guests and members of the media, including Yours Truly, were invited to attend a Grand Opening Gala for the new Waikiki YOKOCHO Gourmet Alley, scheduled to open to the public today, Thursday, December 1, 2016.

Located in the lower level (basement) of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza on Kalakaua Avenue, YOKOCHO is billed as “A dynamic, themed dining destination that will transport you to the alleys of Kyoto, replete with culinary discoveries, direct from Japan. As you navigate your way through Noren Street, Engawa Terrace, and Ramen Road, you will find authentic sushi, tempura, ramen, desserts, and even a Japanese whiskey bar.” The full press release is included at the end of this post.

Upon an initial walk through the place, what will immediately come to mind if you’ve already been there, is Shirokiya’s massively epic and still new Japan Village Walk in Ala Moana Center. Where YOKOCHO is a sort of transported — or perhaps more aptly described “finely honed” version of that.

Following is The Tasty Island’s coverage in photos, including captions and commentary from this past Tuesday’s grand opening event of Waikiki YOKOCHO. Enjoy. ;-)


YOKOCHO in located in the basement of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza on Kalakaua Avenue, right across the street from the center garden courtyard of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center


The Waikiki Shopping Plaza is designed like typical department stores in Japan, with an open center and escalators to each floor flanking it


YOKOCHO means “alleyways off the side of the main street.” Every restaurant is small with a lively atmosphere. Enjoy great food, drink, and friendly conversations with everyone!


Na Keiki Wahine Hula performance at center stage


A live Ukulele virtuoso performance at center stage by Taimane; see YouTube video at end of this this post for an INCREDIBLE jam by her!


SHICHIMUSUBI Organic Musubi sample station


SHICHIMUSUBI ~ 3 types of Omusubi samples: Organic White Rice x Mentaiko Mayo, Organic Brown Rice x Seasoned Tuna  & Organic Red Rice x Salmon


SHICHIMUSUBI Omusubi display case


ASAHI Biru Gal


SIZZLE Wagyu Beef display; this actual slab will eventually get sliced-up that evening for Tataki Sushi samplers


SIZZLE Shabu Shabu platter, featuring high quality Japanese style beef, pork and chicken


SIZZLE Wagyu Tataki Sushi sampler platter


SIZZLE grilled Wagyu beef and Wagyu Tataki Sushi sampler


SIZZLE dining room


Pour Lounge by NOMU, the centerpiece of the entire place (shot taken late after everyone left)


NOMU TAI (their spin on the classic Mai Tai) from Pour Lounge by NOMU (shown with a serving of SIZZLE’s Wagyu Tataki Sushi)


A large crowd gathered for the YOKOCHO Grand Opening Gala


BLU Country Cocktail by Yukie Aizawa: iichiko BLU, fresh lemon juice, Thai Basil, Calamansi and Hawaiian Beef Jerky


Tokyo native Yukie Aizawa mixes up her signature iichiko BLU Country


iichiko BLU Hotties


iichiko Bar Fruits Ume Liqueur


KUSHIKATSU TANAKA variety display


KUSHIKATSU TANAKA variety (click to enlarge; note this a fairly large single 4.3mb image file)


KUSHIKATSU TANAKA Nikusui (Osaka style beef soup)


KUSHIKATSU TANAKA Nikusui sampler (Osaka style beef soup)


KUSHIKATSU TANAKA Kushikatsu Beef, Zucchini & Cookie & Cream sampler; the meat and vegetable sticks are served with their house sauce, which tastes sort of like a “Ponzuyaki” if you will, having sort of sweet ‘n tangy dashi and shoyu-based flavor that’s thickened just a little


KUSHIKATSU TANAKA Cookie & Cream sampler (while I didn’t ask, I’m pretty sure this was a “Katsu-fied” Macaron)


The men of KUSHIKATSU TANAKA


UMAMI TEPPAN OKONOMIYAKI Prime Beef and Tuna Steak & Lobster display


UMAMI TEPPAN OKONOMIYAKI Garlic Shrimp


UMAMI TEPPAN OKONOMIYAKI Hamburg Steak


UMAMI TEPPAN KINGYO Kurobuta (Blackshire Pork) Yakisoba


UMAMI TEPPAN KINGYO Kurobuta (Blackshire Pork) Yakisoba with Tomato Sauce (Italian style)


UMAMI TEPPAN KINGYO Kurobuta Vegetable Okonomiyaki


Margherita Vegetable Okonomiyaki being grilled at UMAMI TEPPAN OKONOMIYAKI


UMAMI TEPPAN KINGYO Margherita Vegetable Okonomiyaki and Yakisoba sampler


Y
OKOCHO grand opening revelers


NIN NIN Japanese Style Curry – Ninja Curry 


NIN NIN Japanese Style Curry with Steak Topping


NIN NIN Japanese Style Curry with Vegetable Topping


NIN NIN Japanese Style Curry Loco Moco


NIN NIN Japanese style Soup Curry


NIN NIN style Pork Katsu Curry


NIN NIN Chef Shohei Nakamura


Suntory Whisky from NOMU


“Kapakahi” (all mixed up) Poke Shots from Pour Lounge by NOMU


BENIYA Sushi & Washoku Chef displays their New Caledonia Prawn Tempura


BENIYA Sushi & Washoku New Caledonia Prawn Tempura was offered as samplers  that evening


 BENIYA Sushi & Washoku Blue Crab Cake Temaki and Chumaki samplers


BENIYA Sushi & Washoku Maguro Otoro (Blue Fin Tuna Belly) display (so expensive, it needs to be protected in a case!); later that evening I would get served sashimi from this very slab!


The absolutely best (most expensive) money can buy Maguro Otoro (Blue Fin Tuna Belly) Sashimi from BENIYA Sushi & Washoku

Pomai savors the fine moment then devours in ecstasy a serving of exquisite “fit for the Emperor” Maguro Otoro Sashimi, personally offered to only a few there by the Sushi Chef at BENIYA Sushi & Washoku


Master Sushi Chefs of BENIYA Sushi & Washoku


Nana’s Green Tea, located right across center stage within Yokocho on the basement of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza


Nana’s Matcha and Hoji Latte samplers (green tea and roasted green tea, respectively)


Nana’s Matcha and Hoji Soft Serve Ice Cream


Hawaiian Ukulele Virtuoso Taimane (center) with Japanese Taiko Group Sai


Na Wahine Keiki Hula Dancers get ready to perform on center stage


Na Wahine Keiki Hula Dancers get ready to perform on center stage


Yelp Honolulu Community Manager Emi Hart with Hubby Michael and friends


Melissa Chang, a friend and Sean Morris


Hawaii House of Representatives (Waikiki District) Tom Brower with Pomai, Mayor, Governor and President of The Tasty Island lol


Pomai and Nadine Kam @ chat at the table at Nana’s Green Tea near center stage


Pomai with Billy V, emcee host of the evening


Pomai with Alika Mau, family part owner of Waikiki Shopping Plaza (Tanaka of Tokyo and Yokocho) and Waikiki Business Plaza (the block next door; Top of Waikiki and Sky Lounge)


Frank Clark, CEO of Waikiki Yokocho LLC, with Pomai


PRESS RELEASE

Waikiki Yokocho Serves Up 11 Exciting New Restaurants

The one-of-a-kind gourmet dining experience is scheduled to open December 1, 2016

HONOLULU – Waikiki Yokocho announced today the 11 remaining concepts scheduled to
open at Waikiki’s highly anticipated new dining experience. Among the list are the popular
Tsujita ramen shop, which is known for its out-the-door lines in Tokyo and Los Angeles and
Kaneko Hannosuke, which has attracted crowds in Tokyo with their quality tempura dishes.
Based off the concept of “yokocho” or alleyway dining in Japan, Waikiki Yokocho is
scheduled to open Thursday, December 1, 2016. The 23,000 square-foot space in the
basement of Waikiki Shopping Plaza will feature 16 authentic Japanese eateries.
“The yokocho concept is perfect for Waikiki given that the area is known to promote
exploring and experiencing new sights, sounds and tastes,” said Frank Clark, Waikiki
Yokocho LLC. CEO. “These 11 new additions will transport our guests to Japan with every
bite. Whether you’re craving tempura, ramen, sushi or something sweet, Waikiki Yokocho
will offer a selection of authentic flavors.”

Waikiki Yokocho is proud to announce these 11 new (+ 5) dining options:

  • Listed in the 2012 Michelin Guide Hokkaido as one of the city’s best ramen
    restaurants, Baikohken will open its first restaurant in the United States right here
    in Waikiki. Its specialty soup originated in Asahikawa in Hokkaido, is known as W
    soup and combines seafood and other meats to create a rich flavor.
  • Kyoto-style Beniya brings traditional sushi to Waikiki with its authentic style nigiri,
    using fresh seafood from Tsukiji and all over the world. Enjoy authentic, modern
    kaiseki dishes prepared by one of Japan’s top chef. Their extensive sake selection
    will appeal to sake lovers who enjoy pairing sushi and other specialty dishes.
  • Since it opened in 1976 in Harajuku, Tokyo, Marion Crepes has been the originators
    of Japanese-style crepes, creating exquisite flavor with its original dough. Combining
    ingredients like Chantilly cream, ice cream, and various fruits, each crepe is a sweet
    combination. The company currently operates 80 restaurants in Japan and six
    locations internationally.
  • Nin Nin Curry brings nostalgic Japanese flavors, augmented with a French sense of
    style to a contemporary curry shop. The approachable flavor will help put Japanese
    curry rice on the map.
  • Pour Lounge by Nomu is a modern bar that prides itself on serving whiskey and
    other uniquely crafted cocktails incorporating this well-known whiskey popular in
    Japan and around the world.
  • RAMEN Bario’s ramen experience consists of creamy Tonkotsu pork broth, a
    unique, chewy noodle texture, and house-made char siu roast pork. Waikiki
    Yokocho will be the first international location for the Tokyo-based ramen
    restaurant.
  • Sizzle will offer Japanese yakiniku-style barbecue and hot pot including sake shabu
    shabu using the finest Japanese Wagyu beef and U.S. beef. Shoppers will want to
    pop in during the day to take advantage of their great lunch specials.
  • From Sapporo, Hokkaido, Sobaya Maruki has been around since 1889, thanks to the
    love of its customers for the past 128 years. Relish their specially formulated
    buckwheat noodle made in-house and the flavors that are still used today.
  • In historic Nihonbashi in Tokyo, Kaneko Hannosuke has cooked up a reputation for
    high quality with crowds frequently lining up in Tokyo for their delicious tempura
    dishes.
  • At its Tokyo and Los Angeles locations, long lines of guests await the taste of the
    finest ingredients boiled down to craft Tsujita’s pork and seafood based broth.
    Served tsukemen style – with the noodles separated from the broth – the hearty
    noodles accompany a thick broth that is as authentic as it is amazing. The restaurant
    has been recognized with accolades by the LA Times, LA Weekly, and Zagat for six
    consecutive years.
  • At Umami Teppan Kingyo food looks like a work of art. Using a flat iron grill, dishes
    are created to both taste and look amazing. Guests will also be able to enjoy fresh
    ingredients thoughtfully placed on okonomiyaki (Japanese style pancake), and
    takoyaki.

Waikiki Yokocho previously announced the openings of Kushikatsu Tanaka, Nana’s Green
Tea, Nomu, ShichiMusubi and Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen.

Traditionally, Japan’s yokocho are side streets considered a popular place for those wishing to experience everything from bar hopping to grocery shopping. Each eatery will be situated within one of three areas – Ramen Road, Noren Street, and Engawa Terrace – all designed to resemble the alleyways of a yokocho. Ramen Road will feature four ramen options, while Noren Street will offer more savory selections such as tempura and sushi vendors. For those looking for something sweet to cap off their dining experience, Engawa Terrace will showcase dessert-type dishes.

For more information, visit Waikiki Yokocho online at www.waikiki-yokocho.com. Also
follow Waikiki Yokocho on Facebook at www.facebook.com/waikikiyokocho, on Instagram
at www.instagram.com/waikikiyokocho and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/waikikiyokocho.

Press release and event promotion courtesy of Crystal Yamasaki @ CrystalClearHI.com

Waikiki YOKOCHO Gourmet Alley
Waikiki Shopping Plaza
2250 Kalakaua Avenue
Lower Level 100
Honolulu, HI 96815

www.waikiki-yokocho.com

See website above for parking information

Related links:

Waikiki Yokocho Gourmet Alley Opens December 1st – HawaiiMomBlog.com
Upcoming Eats in Waikiki – Waikiki Japanese Food Alley – FrolicHawaii.com