By Dagny Brand
Inspired by both Izakaya-style food and great craft beers and cocktails, Heiho House transports its guests into an Osaka-esque space with creative dishes evolved from the reimagination of traditional meals. Co-owner Thomas Ray explained that a meal is both “food and an experience. Be prepared for a wild ride!” Ray and his partner, Hideo Simon, married their love of three concepts, Izakaya, craft beer, and cocktails, to create a consumer experience unheard of at other restaurants. Executive Chef Aaron Lopez joined the team to “do things that no one else is doing” with their dishes, as Lopez explained. The bold variety of the constantly evolving menu welcomes all types of diners to enjoy an innovative and delicious experience.
Once transported to the inside of Heiho House, guests can “choose their own destiny” with an interactive and approachable menu and environment. “Our dishes highlight our chefs’ creativity and always include new flavors,” said Ray, praising his chefs’ amazing craft and abstract design with food. The restaurant uses local ingredients from many different farmers to reinvent familiar island and Izakaya flavors. “We’ve been called ‘a melting pot of cultures that got shoved through a Japanese meat grinder,’” mentioned Lopez, who went into detail about the innovative style and experience that Heiho House has. “It’s a playground for creativity. It’s about taking something you know and looking at it from a different angle.” Chefs take inspiration from childhood favorites and life experiences to invent a variety of dishes. The menu includes only three word descriptions for each dish and cocktail to reset guest expectations. “We don’t want to give away the ending to the plot,” explained Lopez, who added that experienced foodies and those just looking for a bite to eat have a level playing field when it comes to understanding the dishes at Heiho House before trying them. The relatively small plates with intense and bold flavors are meant to “make someone feel something — joy, confusion, or even anger.” Both Ray and Lopez recommend ordering everything that sounds appealing and allowing yourself to interact with the menu. “We give guests a chance to talk about food,” explained Lopez.
Heiho House has been crafted into a beautiful space with design elements like lanterns done by hand by Simon, who is a master artisan. “You’re in Honolulu on the outside, and when you walk in, you’re in a completely different space,” said Ray. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner, and Ray and Lopez agree that Thursdays and Sundays are the most relaxed days to enjoy the experience and flavors at Heiho House. Heiho House is reservation-focused due to COVID-19 protocols but also welcomes walk-ins. The menu at Heiho House changes every six to eight weeks, so there are always new and inventive dishes to try. A special menu launch is coming up on March 3rd as well. Ray mentioned that Heiho House’s sister restaurant, Square Barrels, also has an inventive and creative menu, allowing guests to enjoy a spin on traditional dishes. “Come taste every dish!” For more information about Heiho House, click here.