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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Great Bakers; Sekiya’s Longtime Success

The quality of bakers in Honolulu continues to reach new heights.

I remember first coming to Hawaii 20 years ago and not being able to find a fresh loaf of artisan bread or even a bagel that wasn’t from the freezer section of the grocery store.

Today we have some outstanding, gifted bakers creating everything from fresh bread and rolls to gorgeous desserts and pastries. Evidence of these high standards can be found at Ala Moana’s Patisserie La Palme Do’r, where Japanese-trained pastry chefs create sweet indulgences that resemble delicate objects of handcrafted art.

The store itself has the appearance of a jewelry or high-end fashion store with clear-glass cabinets and sparkling shelves serving to display delicate pastries reflected by the glass. Some desserts and pastries are seasonal (Easter and Christmas are the most colorful times to visit), but there’s a huge selection of pastries, chocolates and cakes made daily that are enough to feed the most voracious appetites. Cream puffs and crunchy chocolate sandwiches are a must, but if you can only treat yourself to one thing, make it the crème caramel pudding topped with freshly whipped cream. Raspberries, chocolate crunch balls and banana are hidden inside. You may easily walk past the couture inspired windows – no other bakery has quite such an impressive window display – but double back and head on in, as gorgeous sweet treats await.

You’ll find Patisserie La Palme D’Or in Space 2240F at Ala Moana Center on the Shirokiya side of the mall …

As new restaurants continue to open and we enjoy current food trends, we’re always happy to report on the success of family restaurants that continue to do well.

The restaurant industry is tough, and these past few years have seen many restaurants struggle through hard times. Surviving the changing culinary environment thanks to its ability to provide a taste of foods rarely made anymore is Sekiya’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in Kaimuki.

There are customers who eat at the restaurant three times a week, and even more who drive across the island for a taste of Sekiya’s sweet cone sushi and homemade tsukemono.

“We have people who will drive a long way for the taste they remember,” says co-owner Joy Morihara. The original Sekiya’s opened on School Street, then moved to Kapahulu Avenue in 1947. Back then, plate lunches cost less than a dollar, and a steaming bowl of saimin noodles cost just 30 cents. Today, the prices might be higher, but consistency remains. Cone sushi that’s light and sweet, corned beef hash balls, teriyaki chicken sticks and nitsuke butterfish are just some of the dishes that haven’t changed in decades. The menu doesn’t alter much, and that’s just the way customers – old and new – like it.

A firm favorite on rainy days is the restaurant’s famous oxtail soup, served with rice, tsukemono and hot tea.

Next time you get a craving for local Japanese food and the kind of homemade flavors you might remember from childhood, put the restaurant on your list.

“What people seem to appreciate is that our sauces and our marinades are always the same,” says Morihara.

Happy eating!

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