“Hawaiian Style Cafe” Expanding to Tokyo

“Ready or not, the pancakes are coming,” says Hawaiian Style Cafe – Hilo’s owner, Guy Kao`o, when describing his restaurant’s Tokyo debut.

Hawaiian Style

With a newly-built location set to debut in Japan’s famous Ginza shopping district, Kao`o is intent on making a big splash using his establishment’s signature plate-hogging flapjacks.

Although Tokyo diners aren’t exactly famous for “super sizing” their meals, Kao`o felt it was important to preserve the restaurant’s core identity, and to promote its homespun appeal.  “It’s right there in our name,” explains Kao`o.  “We plain on giving the people of Japan the most authentic taste of Hawaiian home cooking that they can get.”

Ginza, Japan

Ginza Shopping District

Hawaiian Style’s monster pancakes actually helped open the door to the new location, having been continually splashed over social media and restaurant review sites in recent years.  Indeed, Kao`o’s Japanese partner in the venture discovered the restaurant in part thanks to its wide-spread internet presence.

“I got a call one day, just out of the blue, from a guy wanting to open a local-style restaurant there,” he explains, adding, “within days we were sitting down across from each other.”

Hawaiian Style Pancake

An agreement was made between the two men, followed by a two year search for a high-profile location and test kitchen trials.  “We cooked over there to see what works,” says Kao`o.

To his delight, the most well-received items on the menu included island staples like Kalua Pork with cabbage.  “Home-style cooking really seems to strike a chord in Japan these days,” Kao`o explains, adding, “it’s almost like, the simpler the better.”

Ginza, Tokyo is one of the world’s most heavily trafficked urban locations.  Kao`o, who will be on hand for the restaurant’s opening, feels that the frenetic setting is perfect for making a big splash.

After their Tokyo debut, Kao`o is set on expanding Hawaiian Style’s reach to the U.S. mainland.  “We’re actively scouting locations in California,” he says, adding, “it’s gonna be a busy year.”

Hawaiian Style Cafe’s Ginza, Tokyo location will hold a soft opening on March 27, followed by a grand opening celebration on March 31.

Established in the town of Kamuela, Hawai`i in 1993, the Hawaiian Style Cafe has been serving local portions of local food (with aloha) for over 23 years.  Their Hilo location opened in 2012 and will be followed in 2016 by a location in Ginza, Japan.

2015 Big Island Press Club Torch of Light Award and Lava Tube Dishonor Named

The Big Island Press Club awards its annual meritorious Torch of Light Award to state Sen. Lorraine Inouye and the Lava Tube dishonor award to Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case.

bipc logo

The Torch of Light award is given to an individual who brightens the public’s right to know, while the Lava Tube dishonor is given for a lack of communication and keeping the public in the dark.

Lava Tube Dishonor

The Lava Tube is awarded to DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case, who hails from Hilo, for setting up roadblocks to the media who have tried to gather information and gain access on matters large and small.

In particular, Case is cited for trying to issue special restrictions to the media — but not the public– on access to Mauna Kea during protests over the Thirty Meter Telescope, and for creating special rules for the media– but not the public– to follow when contacting division chiefs.

A Hawaii Tribune-Herald news article describing these restrictions included this quote, “I respect the DLNR’s desire to keep everyone safe on Mauna Kea, but I would strongly urge the state to give our reporters and photographers the same access as any other members of the public, including the protesters,” said David Bock, Tribune-Herald editor and publisher. “The newspaper opposes any effort to confine its news gathering to a media staging area.”

The rules imposed by DLNR for the media include blocking access to division heads and other personnel who would know the answer to what are sometimes simple procedural questions on their areas of expertise. DLNR has also blocked journalists from asking questions at community meetings, while allowing non-journalists to ask similar questions.

“DLNR staff and management are instructed not to respond to direct news media calls,” states a DLNR media protocol emailed to the media. “Contacting staff directly will likely delay a response to your request.”

DLNR’s media protocol, hinder, rather than assist, journalists across Hawaii who are trying to meet their deadlines and provide the public with information in a timely manner.

Torch of Light

BIPC has selected Sen. Lorraine Inouye, a North Hawaii Island Democrat, for its Torch of Light award. Inouye is honored for assisting the Big Island Press Club and sponsoring a bill to allow a media exemption to Act 111, a recently enacted law that gives broad emergency powers to the government.

When the June 27 Kilauea lava flow threatened the town of Pahoa in 2015, Hawaii County officials blocked all media access to the flow and its impact zones. Big Island Press Club members met with county officials to try to work out a mutually agreeable solution regarding access and were willing to meet the demands made of them, including paying for increased insurance liability waivers, undergoing specialized safety training and other safety measures.  Instead, journalists in Hawaii and across the nation were unable to independently verify events and were provided government-sanctioned photos and updates.

It is the role of the media to bear witness and be the eyes and ears of the public. Independent reporting is critical to providing the public necessary information so that they may make informed decisions, rather than react based on misinformation or ignorance.

Recognizing that a free press is the cornerstone of democracy, Inouye has carried the torch for government openness. She workshopped with BIPC on the bill, steadfastly pushed forward in the face of opposition and persistently explained the bill while winning skeptics to her side.

Inouye will be honored with a special Torch of Light trophy later this year at BIPC’s annual Christmas party.

The Big Island Press Club — the state’s oldest press club, founded in 1967– has awarded the Lava Tube and the Torch of Light annually since 1997 on Freedom of Information Day, March 16, the birthday of James Madison. Born in 1751, Madison was an author of the U.S. Constitution and a “Federalist Papers” author and one of the nation’s foremost advocates for government openness.

Previous Lava Tube Dishonorees

  • 2014 Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago
  • 2013 Democratic Party House District 5 Council
  • 2012 State Sen. Clayton Hee
  • 2011 Governor Neil Abercrombie
  • 2010 Hawaii County Council
  • 2009 Noelani Whittington, County Department of Public Works
  • 2008 Mayor Harry Kim and Hawaii County Council
  • 2007 State Board of Education
  • 2006 Honolulu, Kauai, and Hawaii County Councils
  • 2005 District Judge Matthew S.K. Pyun
  • 2004 State Land Board Chairman Peter Young
  • 2003 State Sen. Cal Kawamoto
  • 2002 University of Hawaii Board of Regents
  • 2001 University of Hawaii Board of Regents
  • 2000 State Rep. Eric Hamakawa and Hawaii County Councilman James Arakaki
  • 1999 Hawaii County Council
  • 1998 Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano
  • 1997 Hawaii County Councilman Elroy Osorio

Previous Torch of Light Honorees

  • 2014 USGS HVO Scientists
  • 2013 Mayor Billy Kenoi
  • 2012 County Councilwoman and state Rep. Helene Hale (posthumously)
  • 2011 State Judicial Selection Commission
  • 2010 Hawaii County Civil Defense and other departments
  • 2009 Legislature, Gov. Linda Lingle
  • 2008 Les Kondo, Office of Information Practices
  • 2007 West Hawaii Today
  • 2006 Lillian Koller, State Department of Human Services
  • 2005 Retired Circuit Judge Paul de Silva
  • 2004 UH Manoa Journalism Professor Beverly Keever
  • 2003 U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink (posthumously)
  • 2002 Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim
  • 2001 Hawaii County Clerk Al Konishi
  • 2000 Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano
  • 1999 Jerry Rothstein and Judith Graham
  • 1998 Environment Hawaii and Common Cause
  • 1997 Society of Professional Journalists, Hawaii Chapter