Managing Partner, Ichiriki Japanese Nabe Restaurant, Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center
When did you come to Hawaii? I was born in Texas and raised in California, and I came to Hawaii a couple of years ago. The restaurant industry – Ichiriki – brought me here.
Ichiriki is a very exciting, young restaurant company. You just opened a third location in Kaneohe. Congratulations. Thank you. Yes, we are a very young company. Our first location was at Ala Moana on Piikoi, and our second is in Aiea. We’re excited to have opened our third restaurant.
What does the name mean? The name is a combination of the names of our founders, Issei Kazama and Ricky Kobayashi; the name means “one power.”
Even though the restaurants are contemporary, there’s a real sense of tradition when you eat at Ichiriki. Yes, we all have lots of ideas and the partners bring a lot to the table, but at the end of the day Issei and Ricky bring us back to our traditional roots and our values. We serve Japanese hot pot – nabe – and there’s a cultural and traditional difference between Japanese hot pot and those from other cultures.
I love the combination at Ichiriki – tradition, the humility of service, youth and enthusiasm. That’s a powerful energy. Yes! It’s a bit like our menu. We put a whole lot of incredible things into one pot and make something amazing (laughs).
What is it that appeals to you about the restaurant industry? Oh, definitely the customer connection. It’s so important to me. That people choose to spend their special occasions with us and that they celebrate memorable times with us … that’s really special. It’s the best feeling to be connected to people through our food.
What’s the most challenging part of creating a restaurant from scratch? (laughs) All of it! When you give life to a restaurant, it’s like a form of surgery. Everything has to be precise and exact. You can’t pay attention enough to detail. And it takes time.
With whom would you most like to have dinner at Ichiriki? My parents would be great, but really, in this new location, I’d just be happy to see the whole community come for dinner! We want to be part of the neighborhood and a place to hang out.