About Restaurant Suntory in Waikiki
Oahu's Longtime Favorite Japanese Restaurant
Restaurant Suntory first opened its doors on September 15, 1980 in Waikiki, where it remains the last original tenant of Royal Hawaiian Center. Over the years, Restaurant Suntory has built an impressive reputation among locals and travelers alike for consistently delivering exceptional Japanese dining experiences that emphasize authentic dishes, quality drinks, and unparalleled omotenashi (hospitality).
Owned by Suntory Holdings, the restaurant is part of an international chain that was created with the goal of sharing Japanese culture and cuisine in foreign countries under the Suntory brand name. Hawaii has long been a place that many Japanese people love visiting and even relocating to, so the tie between these two island nations is very clear. In addition, Hawaii’s status as a global destination for paradise seekers makes it an ideal choice for welcoming visitors from all corners of the world.
Introducing Executive Chef, Go Kamikubo
Hailing from Japan, Chef Go Kamikubo joined Restaurant Suntory in 2016, bringing over 20 years of experience under one of the country’s most notable culinary stars, Iron Chef Rokusaburou Michiba. Prior to taking on his current role as executive chef, Kamikubo spent 8 years at the acclaimed Japanese restaurant, Rokusantei, and 13 years at Kaishoku Michiba (both located in the glamorous Ginza district of Tokyo).
As an apprentice, Kamikubo learned all the traditional techniques, skills, and flavors that go into crafting exceptional, authentic Japanese cuisine. He also picked up two core beliefs that he still carries with him to this day. The first is to create no waste. While this can be a challenge at times, a great chef is one who can think flexibly when it comes to utilizing all the ingredients, so that none goes to waste. The second belief is to seek out and take advantage of the seasonal ingredients available to you. The quality will always be better when in season, which makes for a much tastier meal.
Something else Kamikubo frequently recalls is this important lesson from his mentor: “an amazing dish can be a moment of joy.” This is what really drives him to continuously perfect his craft and refine Restaurant Suntory’s menu — the idea that you can spread happiness to each customer that comes through the door by doing your best cooking every day.
Under Kamikubo’s guidance, Restaurant Suntory remains one of the best Japanese dining experiences Hawaii has to offer. His expertise in preparing fine Japanese cuisine along with his attention to quality and creative desire to explore local ingredients have positioned Restaurant Suntory as a true bridge between East and West. Moving forward, Kamikubo hopes to continue teaching Japanese food culture to visiting guests while sharing Hawaii’s local food culture with Japanese customers.
Introducing Sushi Chef, Takuya Kanto
Chef Kanto trained under one of Japan’s most notable Edomae-style sushi masters, Chef Tsutomu Shimamiya. Chef Kanto’s 10-year sushi career includes years at Chef Shimamiya’s restaurants, Sushizen’s Michelin star flagship restaurant as well as its high-end Ginza location, which is regularly frequented by celebrities. Sushizen is a Hokkaido-based group of sushi restaurants renowned as one of the top names in sushi in Japan.
Chef Kanto’s mentor, Chef Shimamiya is the first sushi chef in Hokkaido to be awarded the Modern Day Craftsman Award. He was also presented with the Yellow Ribbon Medal by the emperor for his exemplary dedication to his craft. With Chef Kanto’s experience under such an icon in the sushi world, Tokiwa’s new head sushi chef is well qualified to support Restaurant Suntory’s endeavors to utilize only the finest seasonal ingredients, give guests unique menus to look forward to on a regular basis, and provide true omotenashi (Japanese hospitality).
Sharing what he learned from his time at Sushizen, Chef Kanto highlighted cleanliness, courtesy, and personality as key takeaways. Chef Kanto said, “Not only is taste important, but it’s vital that the presentation imparts a sense of cleanliness. My mentor, Chef Shimamiya, taught me that personality is more important than a chef’s skill — even simple things like how we wear our white uniform as well as how we show our sincerity before customers. Skill is something that has to be acquired with time, and there are no shortcuts.” Chef Kanto’s goal for Tokiwa is to surpass customers’ expectation when they visit Restaurant Suntory and try sushi in Hawaiʻi. He wants to provide customers with an experience that will make them feel as if they are in Japan.