A Night Out at Tanaka of Tokyo
Alison “Bo” Tanaka grew up at Tanaka of Tokyo. Literally.
“One of my fondest early memories was going to the office at King’s Village with my dad,” she says. “I loved that. Today, I meet him in the office every Monday and we review the week and talk strategy.”
Apparently that strategy has been extremely successful. Tanaka of Tokyo is consistently the top-rated teppanyaki restaurant in the state. “We have been in Waikīkī for 41 years,” says Bo. “Our goal was to have a restaurant within walking distance of every hotel in Waikīkī, and with our three locations, we’ve achieved that.”
The talented staff at Tanaka of Tokyo delights customers with great service and an unforgettable dining experience.
Tanaka of Tokyo has restaurants at Ala Moana Center, Waikiki Shopping Plaza, and their newest location at Ohana Waikiki East by Outrigger, where Bo, as the corporate general manager, spends most of her time nowadays. “We’re very proud of our new Ohana East location,” she says. “It’s the only location that has open-air dining, and we offer fully validated parking. We also have the newest table technology—EVO smart grills that filter out the cooking smoke and emit clean air.”
"We only use certified Angus beef," says Bo Tanaka.
Bo can be seen most nights covering the floor at the Ohana East location. “I’ve done every job there is to do at the restaurant—dishwasher, busser, front of house, server, bartender, cashier, general manager, social media director and now corporate general manager. That makes it easier for me to fill in wherever necessary.”
Before joining the family business full time ten years ago, Bo graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and received her Master’s Degree in Business from Chaminade University. She is also a former Miss Hawai‘i United States. “I worked in retail, briefly for a local magazine, and modeled. I even worked at a barn, cleaning stalls and giving pony rides!”
We ask Bo what she’d want customers to know about Tanaka of Tokyo. “That would most definitely be the quality of our food. For instance, we only use certified Angus beef, and no one can accept food deliveries except our head chef, to ensure quality.” We ask her when was the last time a delivery was rejected. “Today,” she says. “He turned away a delivery of chicken. Also, our ginger and mustard sauces are made fresh daily.” Can I get the recipe? “No.” Darn. “That’s top secret. Each sauce has 20 ingredients.”
We ask Bo what she enjoys most about her job. “I love working with our staff. We have great people. And I enjoy meeting people from all over the world every day.”
Any recent celebrity sightings? “Adam Sandler was in recently. He was very unassuming and cool. We put him in a corner so he could have some privacy.”
Lastly, we ask Bo what she orders. “The Shogun Course. Filet and lobster and scallops. And I always recommend the fried rice.”
[A version of this interview can be found in the January-March 2020 print editions of This Week Oahu.]
Keywords: dining on oahu oahu dining waikiki dining fine dining waikiki waikiki entertainment Japanese food oahu Japanese food Honolulu Japanese food waikiki best Japanese food waikiki best Japanese restaurant Honolulu Japanese cuisine
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