Featured Local Business: Arancino

Al Dente with Aloha at Arancino

When you ask people about food in Hawaii, Italian food probably isn’t the first thing that comes up.  Among  locals however, Arancino’s restaurants consistently come up in our food recommendations.  The first Arancino opened up on Waikiki Beachwalk in 1998. They now operate Arancino di Mare and Arancino at the Kahala on Oahu, along with 2 stores in Osaka and Kyoto. 

arancino opening staff 1998Arancino Opening staff – 1998

The brainchild of owner Ichiro Inamura, the restaurant quickly developed a reputation for serving quality Italian style pasta.  Born in Tokyo, Ichiro settled in Hawaii with his whole family in 1987. After operating a beer bar for a short time, he strived to open a restaurant with a truly unique menu. Realizing that Hawaii didn’t have much of an Italian food scene, Arancino was born to meet this need. Meaning “small orange” in Italian, the original restaurant opened with an inviting orange interior.

Arancino di Mare
Arancino di Mare

The next to open was Arancino di Mare. With a large outdoor seating area by the beach, the location provided the relaxed atmosphere Ichiro was looking for.  Arancino at the Kahala was created next to cater to demand for high end Italian cuisine. Over the last 5 years, the restaurants high reputation has been cemented by winning 15 Ilima and Hale Aina Awards. Although a highly successful restaurant, Ichiro credits his success to the 11 years of effort he put in between 1987 and 1998. 

uni pastaArancino’s Uni Pasta

As of 11/10/2020,  all three Oahu restaurants are temporarily closed.  Although tourism is slowly returning, many considerations regarding safety, money, and food waste have to be made. They are currently watching the covid situation carefully for the best time to open. 

chef and farmer
Arancino Chef sourcing local produce

From ingredients to menu items to service, one thing they definitely strive for is quality. Many of the ingredients are sourced locally, and dishes have to pass a taste test from a group of staff members to make it onto the menu.  They also hire secret shoppers , checking on everything from ambiance to service.


Kids Nutella Pizza
Kids Nutella Pizza

During the first lockdown,  the restaurant offered a free kids pizza on Fridays which was very popular.  Although the next steps are still being developed, Ichiro is looking forward to serving guests on the large open air terrace seating at Arancino di Mare and Arancino at the Kahala.  When wrapping up our interview, Ichiro said “If you really need your fix, you gotta go all the way to Kyoto or Osaka” flashing an easy smile.  We might just have to hop on a plane.


Supporting Oahu’s Small Businesses

Here at Oahu’s Best Coupons, we are very invested in the community of small, locally owned businesses on the island. Due to Covid-19, many of these businesses are struggling. With the unprecedented drop in Hawaii tourism, many of your favorite businesses may struggle to keep their doors open. We hope that our readers will visit and support them so we can all rebuild the Hawaii that we love. 

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