Aloha Steak House: A New Casual Steakhouse in Waikīkī
You now can add Aloha Steak House to the lineup of Waikīkī restaurants brought to you by Zetton Inc., which also includes Zigu, Paris.Hawai‘i, Goofy Café and Dine, Heavenly Island Lifestyle and Aloha Table.
The affordable surf and turf features U.S. rib-eye steak and garlic Kaua‘i shrimp.
Photo: Sarah Burchard
Ultraman exploded as a pop culture icon in Japan after his 1960s debut on the science fiction television show bearing his name. The superhero alien, who fought monsters threatening to destroy Earth, was unbeatable—until the last episode of the series when a monster named Zetton finally beat him.
Fast-forward several decades later, and it appears that Waikīkī now has a Zetton of its own. Named after the “Ultraman” victor, Zetton Inc. runs 85 restaurants around Oʻahu, Japan and South Korea. The Japan-based restaurant group comprising Kenichi Inamoto, CEO; Daisuke Kikuchi, COO; and Makoto Hasegawa, director of operations, has opened six eateries in Waikīkī within the past 10 years and plans to launch two more.
The group chose the name Zetton because it strives to beat out the competition, just like the sci-fi monster—minus his villainous intentions, Hasegawa explained with a laugh. He and other members of the group targeted Waikīkī because they believe it is the premier travel destination for people around the world.
The tomahawk steaks, sliced tableside, steal the show at Aloha Steak House. It is recommended that you preorder when making your reservation.
In a neighborhood so saturated with dining options that it seems impossible to fit one more, Zetton has prevailed. Its newest concept to invade Waikīkī? Aloha Steak House. Zetton created Aloha Steak House after finding abundant high-end establishments and plate lunch spots serving grilled beef but nothing in between. Aloha Steak House was designed to provide a middle ground.
Aloha Steak House is cozy—just 48 seats with an additional private dining room that can seat another 10—and an ambiance that encourages selfies and shared plates. My dining mates and I immediately snapped a photo with the surfing cows and palm trees next to the words “Beach and Beef” on the entrance wall.
Zetton corporate chef Kiego Yoshimoto offers fun dishes such as mini corn dogs ($6), cheese fondue ($18), lemonade in take-home plastic honey bears ($7.50) and ice cream cones that look like watermelon slices ($7.50). The whole cloves of toasty garlic confit that adorn the garlic fries ($6) were so tasty that I felt like dumping the fries on the floor so they would stop getting in the way. Flintstone-sized aloha spicy wings ($10) smothered in a sticky coating of honey, Sriracha, butter, garlic and ketchup are crunchy on the outside and soft in the center. The meat slides off the bone in one clean motion, like pulling off a dress.
Watermelon soft-serve ice cream, made with fresh watermelon juice and chocolate chips, is served in a green house-made waffle cone.
PHOTO: SARAH BURCHARD
Aloha Steak House is the perfect place to refuel after the beach in your board shorts and slippers, to pre-party before a night of drinking in Waikīkī, or to bring your not-yet-ready-for-serious-dining kids.
Tourists, food writers and squealing children enlivened the room on our first visit, taking food pics and cheering as giant tomahawk rib-eye steaks ($88) hit their tables. A group of four boisterous Midwesterners bantered with us all night.
The well-marbled steaks (priced by the pound starting at $26 for a half-pound rib-eye, $30 for a half-pound tenderloin), which only grain-fed cows could produce, are the main attraction. Unctuous and well-seasoned, they arrive medium-rare under a hunk of melting butter on a screaming-hot cast-iron platter with a spoonful of sizzling corn and a side of secret-recipe Maui onion steak sauce reminiscent of a rich, concentrated French onion soup. Chewing is nearly effortless.
Order steaks à la carte or, for an additional few bucks, “on-the-rice” or “on-the-salad,” which both actually come on the side. My husband loved the salad dressing so much that he kept begging me to stash a bottle in my purse.
In the cut steak ($17) version, chunks of rib-eye and tenderloin are cut pūpū-style. You also can order an astonishingly inexpensive surf and turf with rib-eye and Kaua‘i garlic shrimp ($33).
Sides are small but satisfying. Mac and cheese, creamed spinach, sautéed mushrooms and mashed potatoes (all $6 each) arrive in cute cast-iron pots, solidifying the rustic “cooking-over-an-open-fire” feeling.
Although local ingredients dot the menu, the emphasis on farm-to-table is not as prevalent at Aloha Steak House as it is at other Zetton restaurants in Waikīkī. With the group’s plan to expand the concept in Japan, the menu has to be something that it easily can replicate there, Kikuchi explained.
Aloha Steak House combines the detailed principles of “omotenashi,” or Japanese hospitality, with efficient American-style service. Employees greet guests with an “Aloha!” on arrival and an “Arigato!” on exit. Bibs, wipes, cutlery and share plates conveniently grace every table, and food zips out of the kitchen.
Tableside service is customary at select Zetton restaurants. Server Lisa Higa paraded the 2-pound tomahawk to a table with a scimitar—a swordlike knife—and a cutting board. She carved up the steak—and the guests attacked the freshly sliced meat like hungry sharks.
If you want a lighthearted place to knock back a couple of cocktails, to laugh loudly with your friends, and to indulge in a fat steak that will not prohibit you from making this month’s rent, then Aloha Steak House is your new spot.
Rib-eye – half-pound $26, 1 pound $39, 1-and-a-half pounds $69
Tenderloin – half-pound $30, three-quarters pound $39
U.S. Cut Steak (combination of rib-eye and tenderloin) – two-fifths pound $17
U.S. Rib-eye Steak & Garlic Shrimp – $33
320 Lewers St., open every day 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner, (808) 600-3431, alohasteakhousewaikiki.com