Sato’s Okazuya closed in January after 55 years, but the iconic Waipahu's space wasn't vacant for long. Just two months later, Keoni and Hauoli Takahashi, cousins who grew up on Sato’s lunches, reopened the eatery as Hashi Okazuya.
What was this? A new okazuya? I drove to Waipahu to see (and taste) for myself. Okazuya requires hours of daily predawn prep and cooking. Keoni retired after 14 years as a cook in the U.S. Navy and dreamt of starting a food truck serving local favorites. When the opportunity to take over the recently closed Sato’s space came up, he and Hauoli were in.
They opened right before COVID-19 hit the Islands. Since okazuya staples are not only made for takeout but are also well-loved comfort foods, business has been steady.
At 8:30 a.m., people are filing out of the cozy space holding substantial amounts of food—a promising sign. A quick look at the menu reveals all the greatest hits: fried noodles, hamburger steak, shrimp tempura, corned beef hash and inari sushi. What catches my eye is the shoyu hot dog, my perennial favorite, which is listed at the breathtaking price of 50 cents. In disbelief, I ask a server if the price is for a half-dog; I’m told it is for a full-size hot dog. Sold!
Frolic assistant editor Thomas Obungen and I order a wide selection that speaks to the traditions and emotional highlights of our childhoods, as well as the pan-fried pork chop with rice and macaroni salad. Because, why not?
See also: Our Top 5: Best mac salad on Oahu
Hashi is not shy with its portions. The small fried noodles overflows the container and is definitely enough for two. Thomas and I ordered the large. We gasp when it appears and only manage to finish half.
Our favorites include the corned beef hash, pork chops, inari sushi and of course, the shoyu hot dog. The flavors are immediately recognizable to my 10-year-old inner child. Misses include the fried chicken and shrimp tempura, which is heavily breaded and may be better as an accompaniment to the saimin.
On the pork chop plate lunch, two generous chops are pan-fried simply with a little salt and pepper and served with a straightforward yet tasty macaroni salad. Thomas’ decision to add a dash of salt and pepper elevates the mac salad to potential Top 5 territory.
This leads us to an interesting observation: All of Hashi’s food is lightly seasoned compared with okazuya from other parts of the island. This is an especially nice touch with the noodles, which are often eaten along with savory items instead of rice.
See also: Best okazuyas on Oahu; Our Top 5
My cravings are satisfied. And I am happy to see a new okazuya with familiar offerings that reflect Waipahu’s sugar plantation days—at prices that also harken to yesteryear.
94-235 Hanawai Circle, Waipahu
Tuesday to Sunday; 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m
**Cash only until further notice**