In most of Waikiki, shirts and shoes are not a requirement for service. The laid-back beach and tropical weather tends to inspire casual clothing and many restaurants cater to visitors in all states of dress.
At Hy’s, however, collared shirts and closed-toe shoes are a must. The lavishly decorated restaurant features tuxedo-clad servers, and only premium food and wine. It’s a fine-dining establishment in Waikiki and, at the end of 2016, it celebrated 40 years in business.
Hy’s is known for its in-house aged steak, seasoned with its proprietary spice blend, all grilled over a live fire stoked with local keawe wood as diners look on. Greens are often locally sourced, and all steaks are prime.
Executive Chef Justin Inagaki takes pride in refining the award-winning menu, and finding specialty foods like Big Island cheeses, to make unique specials.
“This is a calling for me,” he says. Food and cooking have long been a part of the chef’s life. He was born and raised on Oahu. When he was young, his family often had luau, where he first learned about cooking and Island flavors.
That love of food led Chef Justin to study culinary arts at Kapi‘olani Community College, where many great local chefs got their start. He’s been the executive chef at Hy’s for the last two years.
Chef Justin likes to be creative in his kitchen, and enjoys the freedom to play with the menu and food sourcing. “They actually let me do what I want to do,” he says.
That passion and liberty makes for an interesting blend of ingredients from near and far. The steaks, for example, often come from small farms, sometimes tended by Amish farmers in Pennsylvania. “I always want to find a company that’s unique in what it does,” says Chef Justin.
In addition to that prime beef, Chef Justin uses lamb from Niihau, the Forbidden Island, venison from Maui, and he offers occasional Big Island steak specials. “That was my goal when I came here,” he says, “to use local products.” That attention to detail in ingredients is part of why Hy’s is such a classic Waikiki restaurant and has been for almost half a century.