Where were you born and raised? In Finland, just outside Helsinki.
Congratulations on celebrating four years of Tango.
That’s quite an accomplishment, especially as you started in a pretty tough economic time. Yes, thank you. We opened four years ago on Feb. 14. Although we were so busy we didn’t notice the anniversary until it had passed (laughs). Maybe next year we’ll celebrate.
It’s not easy starting a restaurant from scratch. Does Tango look as you imagined it would? Definitely. But you’re right. It’s hard. I think the overall appreciation of the concept is the thing that we’re most happy about. It was hard to come up with it all in the beginning, and understand the demographic and what menu would work. But it’s worked, and we see a wide group of people from high-profile businesspeople to groups just going to the movies. It seems to work pretty well.
It’s almost like you are back in the hotel business the way Tango has become essential to Hokua residents. Yes, we call Hokua the Halekulani of condos. But the good thing is that while the restaurant is, of course, convenient to residents, it’s not intimidating to people walking by or coming out of the theaters.
Breakfast is something you do so well. Yes, I’m really surprised by breakfast. Eggs Benedict has become our thing we have five or so different types, and we do gravlax, too, and duck.
Yours is the only place I can think of that has duck for breakfast, apart from dim sum restaurants. We call it “duck hash,” but it’s a twist on a classic Scandinavian dish, pytt i panna. It’s really popular. We’re in the process of introducing some new dishes, including a vegetarian one. And I’d like to do smoked trout or something similar, but I don’t know where to find it.
When you go home to Finland, what do you eat first? If it’s summer, then herring there’s a great smokehouse in the middle of nowhere where we always go. It’s fabulous and always busy.
What’s always in your fridge? Non-alcohol beer and pretty much nothing else. I don’t have time to cook at home. I’m always here.
With whom would you most like to have dinner at Tango? My chef colleagues. You miss that interaction when you’re not working in the hotel environment. I’d especially like to have dinner with old friends from the industry.