Operator of new local restaurant used to work on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ show
Del Norte residents wanting a taste of Hawaii don’t need to hop on an airplane to satisfy their craving.
Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson Jae Cho makes “loco moco,” a hamburger patty and fried egg over rice with gravy, at 101 Hawaiian BBQ.
101 Hawaiian BBQ opened its doors last week and has been bustling ever since, said Jae Cho, whose family owns the business. Serving up Hawaiian specialties such as loco moco, teriyaki beef and kalua pork, Cho says it’s been so busy he’s been looking for cooks and dishwashers to help out.
“We’ve been so busy,” he said. “All I’ve done is either go home and sleep or go to Walmart and get stuff. I haven’t had time to do anything.”
Cho’s family came to Crescent City from west Los Angeles about two months ago. There Cho, who received his culinary education from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, operated a food truck that specialized in tempura. Cho also had a food truck that specialized in Hawaiian barbecue and worked for a season for the TV show “Hell’s Kitchen.”
His parents have been in the restaurant business for 20 years. They operated a Japanese noodle shop in Honolulu for 12 years, Cho said.
The Crescent City restaurant’s menu features 14 items including barbecue plates featuring chicken, teriyaki beef, short ribs and kalua pork. Cho said even though the cuisine is called Hawaiian barbecue, one can find influences from China, Japan and Korea in his food.
“In Hawaii, 90 percent of the population is Asian,” he said. “The only real Hawaiian thing on the menu is kalua pork.”
Diners will also find shrimp tempura, coconut shrimp and yaki soba among the choices.
Cho said a few tourists have made their way into the restaurant, but most of his diners have been locals. And for most of them, Hawaiian cuisine isn’t a new thing.
“A lot of them have Hawaiian roots,” he said. “A lot of them come up and tell us their story about Hawaii.”
101 Hawaiian BBQ can be found at 1270 Front St., Suite C, near Vita Cucina on the S curve. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Monday, except for Sunday when it opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday. For more information, call 464-2532.