Isamu Kubota

Jo McGarry
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Friday - September 15, 2006 Share | | podcast Podcast |

Isamu Kubota
Isamu Kubota

Isamu Kubota is the chef-owner of Kai restaurant on Makaloa Street. Using a tepppanyaki grill and a mixture of local produce and specialty items flown in from Japan, he has created a unique menu - and a popular following among those who love Japanese food with flair. Here he talks about his early influences and about why he’d like to cook for Tiger Woods.

Age: 50

First professional cooking job?

Eighteen years ago in Tokyo, I owned a restaurant called Kai Sei Tei.

Who has influenced you most in your cooking career?

My mother-in-law - she cooked traditional Kyoto dishes every day that inspired my wife and I to open a restaurant.

Favorite dish at your own restaurant?

Lotus root and cheese (Rankon cheese) and grilled garlic fresh chicken fillet with onion and asparagus - it’s very tender and juicy.

Favorite dish at another Hawaii restaurant?

Tofu and seafood soup at Asia Manoa. I also like the Kahuku corn chowder at Mariposa.

What’s always in your fridge?

Mentaiko - it’s a spicy cod fish roe, delicious with rice or by itself.

Favorite late night snack?

Taro chips or Hakodate Shio Ramen (you can find it at Daiei).

For whom would you most like to cook dinner (living or dead)?

Tiger Woods - I’m a big golf fan - or Don Henley and The Eagles.

What ingredient can you not live without?

Shoda Shoyu from Japan.

How would you describe your cooking?

Fusion, not traditional teppanyaki - it’s a new style of cooking. I try to enhance the flavor of the food itself without adding additional salt or spices. We try to get the freshest meats and vegetables available.

How do you relax when you’re not in the kitchen?

I like to play golf with my wife at Royal Kunia Golf Course, and I enjoy sailing and watching the sunset.

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