D.K. and friends expand Sansei and steaks to the Big Island
CHEF and restaurateur D.K. Kodama is expanding to the Big Island's Kona side. He will open his best-known concept, Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, in the 135,000-square-foot Queens' MarketPlace, now under construction in the Waikoloa Beach Resort. Master sommelier Chuck Furuya will serve as a consultant, as he does with Kodama's other restaurants.
The Queens' MarketPlace is scheduled for completion next summer, while Kodama's first Big Island restaurant is slated to open in the fourth quarter of next year, or perhaps "winter of next year," Kodama said.
"For me, it's a partnership with Waikoloa Land Co.," said Kodama. The cost of establishing a freestanding restaurant would have been prohibitive, he said.
The 6,200-square-foot-restaurant will offer Sansei's full menu of sushi and seafood dishes as well as dry-aged steaks like those served at Kodama's d.k Steak House at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
The space in Waikoloa is larger than Kodama's other Sansei locations, which will enable him to install a dry-aging room and meat-cutting area in addition to an 1,800-degree broiler for fish, steak, chicken, "whatever we got."
"I love that dry (aging) process, I just love good steaks, so now, not only will we have a Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar there, but we will have good steaks there as well," he said. "We want to serve the best of everything."
Meanwhile, Kodama reopened his Kapalua Sansei at a new location on Sept. 29. "What's so great about it is that Kapalua Land Co. let us pick up the (old) restaurant and put it right down where it is, so the kitchen and sushi bar are very similar to our staff ... the food came out great ... it was one of the smoothest openings," he said.
At Waikoloa's Queens' MarketPlace, Sansei will be an anchor tenant, "because of his popularity and because of his success (Kodama has) had over the years," said Debbie Parmley, vice president of commercial real estate for Waikoloa Land, master developer of Waikoloa Beach Resort. "He will be a draw."
Kodama worries that staffing may be a challenge for the restaurant and has contingency plans to rent housing for workers the company ships over from other locations.
However, Parmley is upbeat about staffing prospects for the center. "There is a concern, islandwide, but I believe that we will be able to tap into the people that are wanting to be employed," she said. "We are truly blessed. We've always had enough employees to get the job done."
The group also developed the Kings' Shops at the resort, with upscale retailers including Coach and Louis Vuitton and restaurants from fast-casual to Big Island Steak House, Merriman's Market Cafe and Roy's Waikoloa Bar & Grill.
"The Queens' MarketPlace is geared to the families and the fun lifestyle," for local people and the (tourist) families that visit, Parmley said.
The center is 80 percent occupied, at least on paper, with signed leases and leases soon to be signed. It was important to bring in a mix of national tenants and local entrepreneurs, she said.
The tenant list includes nationally known names such as Arby's, Quiksilver and Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks.
Local tenants expanding into Queens' MarketPlace include Hawi-based apparel and gift boutique Persimmon, Maui-based clothing company Blue Ginger Designs Ltd., the Island Pearls retail concept of Maui Divers of Hawaii Ltd., and restaurants including Charley's Thai Cuisine and J. Lee & H. Y. Lee Inc., a multi-unit operator specializing in Chinese food.
A partnership between Big Island-based KTA Super Stores and Oahu-based MNS Ltd., parent company of the ubiquitous ABC Stores chain, will debut its Island Gourmet Market in a 20,000 square foot space.
Waikoloa Land's attention to attracting local residents to the center was a key factor for Kodama.
"For my business, locals are the base," he said. "You gotta have a good local base, or if not, you can just forget it.
"Local people definitely give me a good base and I want to take care of it. If I take care of them, they take care of us."
Even though you charge $500 for a Spam musubi?
Kodama laughed, saying he put the got the idea to put the joke on the menu from a restaurant in Aspen, Colo., where he once worked. "They had a great wine list," which included on the bottom the name of a wine -- let's say a budget one -- MD 20/20, for $1,000.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org