HOKU: Something familiar, something new
Text: Hanna Heiskanen | Photos © Hoku
HOKU, which mixes Finnish ingredients with the Hawaiian approach to cooking, is a firm favourite on Helsinki’s restaurant scene.
“Fresh, casual, different,” says chef Ryan Shibuya, when asked to describe the restaurant he owns with his wife, Satu. The restaurant specialises in Asian food – a cuisine that Japanese-American Shibuya, who was born and raised in Hawaii, feels passionate about. “Hawaiian food culture is a unique mix of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Portuguese and many other cuisines,” he explains. The Hawaiian Islands are a true melting pot of people, cultures and influences. Growing up, Shibuya would often see dishes from all over the Asia Pacific Rim area served in the same restaurant.
Quality and consistency are key in successfully bringing this approach to food to Finland. “We want to provide our customers the same culinary experience every time. Our menu is a stable collection of HOKU favourites. If a dish is taken off the menu, customers will enquire about it,” says Shibuya. His own choice, pike perch stuffed with seafood and served with lemon beurre blanc, is a good example of Asian fusion cuisine using local ingredients. HOKU’s bursting flavours leave a lasting impression.
HOKU opened in Helsinki in 2012. A fire destroyed its original premises in 2016, but that hasn’t spoiled the restaurant’s warm and welcoming atmosphere. Today, HOKU’s dishes are available at premises in the Kamppi Shopping Centre as well as in the Ullanlinna district, both in the centre of Helsinki. “Our success has come from hard work and great staff. The greatest reward is seeing customers with familiar faces return time after time,” Shibuya concludes.
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