Chef Nobu Kawaharada’s last wish to his wife before he passed away in 2002, was to keep the restaurant they started in 1989 open for business. Lucky for Honolulu, she has honored this wish for almost two decades.
Born on Kyushu, the main southern island of Japan, while in college, Nobu began his culinary training at the prestigious Tokyo Prince Hotel as a waiter. Although successful, he was always more interested in what was happening in the kitchen.
After college Nobu worked for a travel agency and traveled the world visiting Hawai’i in his early 20s. Here he met the love of his life Keiko. Keiko is originally from Okinawa.
Nobu started his cooking career in 1988 by volunteering for a friend who owned the Mr. Ojisan Ramen Shop in Waikiki. Nobu bought the restaurant in 1989.
He became a self-taught chef by reading countless recipe books and experimenting with different techniques and flavors.
Nobu drew on his southern Japanese background to develop his own menu, including miso ramen, curry ramen and the popular hand crafted gyoza, that still remain on the menu today.
In 2000 Mr. Ojisan opened at Kilohana Square on the northern end of Kapahulu Avenue in Kaimuki.
Today, Keiko is proud to showcase the rebrand and new Mr. Ojisan Neo Bar & Sushi location on South King Street. No matter where the restaurant is located, Keiko cooks with a passion using all the freshest ingredients.
Keiko says, “Nobu put his heart and soul into the food, and I try to serve it with a smile that reflects the relationship Nobu and I always wanted for our customers. We want them to feel at home when they visit us.”