Jonathon Lee

Jo McGarry photo

Owner, Dish-Go Restaurant,
2494 S. Beretania St.

Where were you born and raised? I was born in Korea. I came to Hawaii when I was in third grade. I’ve been living here ever since.

Did you grow up in the food business? No, not really. I started off running a commercial fishing fleet at the old Kewalo Basin. We ran the biggest commercial fleet at the time.

OK, so how did you get from the fishing industry to the restaurant industry? The fishing industry changed so much as it grew and as fuel prices, among other things, rose. It seemed time to find a business based on land and not sea. A colleague wanted to sell his wholesale business – a meat distribution company – and it seemed like a great opportunity.

So it’s not too difficult to see how you went from meat distribution to a meat-focused restaurant. Yes, when you have all this excellent product, you want to share it with people (laughs).

Dish-Go combines high-quality meat with a combination of yakiniku and shabu shabu – people can choose what they like and in the style that they like. It’s a completely new and innovative concept. We think that people are starting to eat in a different way and that they want an experience when they go out, not just same old food in the same old environment. What we offer is something that’s different – and people so far think it’s pretty good.

Where do like to go when you have time to eat out? I have a favorite pho restaurant in Waikiki, Pho Mei, next to the Watermark Building and 7-Eleven. It’s a little store that’s really good.

What’s always in your fridge? Meat, usually. Right now there’s Wagyu beef from Japan. It’s amazing, but the cost is unbelievable (laughs).

What kinds of meats are on the yakiniku or shabu shabu menu here? There are 20-plus side dishes and 13 different meats at dinner. We have two different kalbi, two kinds of pork belly – Korean-cut pork belly and Japanese-cut – marinated barbecued beef, pork, marinated chicken, short ribs … want more?

No, I think we get the idea. Anything about you that might surprise people? I was chef garde manager at Pacific Beach Hotel. I used to do the ice and vegetable carving, and food decoration. Occasionally I still decorate the vegetables and fruit here if I have time.