Taste of Marukai draws 1,000 to sample Japanese fare

April 12th, 2013
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mtoastNadine Kam photos
After a kagami biraki ceremony, Mr. Takemura, president of Tsukasabotan Brewing Co., of Japan, shared a toast with 3660 On the Rise chef Russell Siu, Marukai Corp. executive vice president Richard Matsu, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Marukai Wholesale Mart welcomed food and sake fans to enjoy dozens of dishes along with a variety of sake, shochu and Japanese beer during its annual Taste of Marukai event that took place April 11 at Marukai's Dillingham store at 2310 Kamehameha Highway, which packed in its 1,000 guests easily.

Sure there were lines for sashimi, sushi from Gokujo Sushi and edibles cooked up by 3660 On the Rise chef Russell Siu, but there was plenty to go around, so much so that chances are, most people probably got full before they could sample every offering.

Although there is less emphasis on outside chefs than in past years, in favor of showcasing fresh seafood and products carried by Marukai, crowd pleasers from past events were back, including fresh grilled abalone, platefuls of sashimi, made-to-order handrolls, tempura, yakitori, and more.

The event opened with the traditional Kagami Biraki sake barrel opening ceremony, with Marukai Corp. executive vice president Richard Matsu welcoming chef Siu, the president of Tsukasabotan Brewing Co., and Gov. Neil Abercrombie to crack open the barrel and share a toast.

Elsewhere in the store, highlights included a soba-making demonstration, amezaiku Japanese candy art, and a fish-cutting demo. People seem to be fascinated by the process because a video I made three years ago continues to draw hits and comments.

marukaiGuests started lining up early for Taste of Marukai for a bite of Japanese specialties.

marukai1Marukai executive vice-president Richard Matsu with his wife Jo, right, and Kori Higa.

mcheckMatsu presented a check for $30,000 to representatives from four beneficiaries of the fundraising event: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, and the Hawaii United Okinawa Association.

mfishlineDiners in line passed a sashimi boat, below, and ahi en route to sashimi plates.

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msashimi2Plates full of sashimi; the fade in the photos is due to refrigeration mist.

msashimiThe big three: hamachi, maguro and sake.

m3660Pan-seared, shichimi-scented mahimahi topped with cucumber crab salad, in a dashi-ginger nage, from 3660 on the Rise.

mshortribHoisin-glazed braised shortribs over jasmine rice.

msushiAn event goer shares her wishes with a sushi chef from Gokujo Sushi, which provided made-to-order nigiri and handroll sushi.

mcandyNathan and Chika Tanaka of Candy Art Hawaii were there, demonstrating the traditional Japanese art of amezaiku, shaping hot melted sugar into whimsical lollipop shapes.

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msake2Several breweries were represented at stations throughout the store, offering premium sake and shochu samples.

mabaloneAbalone fresh off the grill.

medamameGarlicky edamame hummus.

mchickenPlenty of yakitori.

msteakSlicing into Harris Ranch prime rib roast, on the plate below.

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msobaMr. Sugata from Shimane, Japan, rolls out soba dough. Demonstrations continue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 12 through 14 at the Dillingham Marukai.

msoba2Richard Matsu and Alan Tang enjoy Mr. Sugata's work. The soba, below.

msoba1

mspinGuests could spin a wheel for prizes ranging from restaurant gift certificates to interisland vacations and a Las Vegas trip for two.

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