by Kevin Mcgue
Lush palm trees and a small walk-through garden set the restaurant apart from the busy street, working to create a remote island feel miles away from any water.
Hawaii remains one of the most popular destinations for Japanese travelers, and Hawaiian cuisine long ago made inroads into Japan, offering a little taste of the isles without a trip through Narita. With the recent popularity of the LOHAS movement, slow food, and active attitudes towards health, the time has come for a new, relaxed style of Hawaiian cafes. Spam musubi is on the way out and avocado marinade is in.
So when we heard that a new style Hawaiian restaurant had opened, we headed to Daikanyama to check it out. We found Aloha Table across the street from the Danish and Egyptian embassies in a lovely section of this hip neighborhood. Lush palm trees and a small walk- through garden set the restaurant apart from the busy street, working to create a remote island feel miles away from any water. We noticed that just next door is Anthlonia, a sports shop specializing in triathlon gear, underscoring the association of new Hawaiian cuisine and a healthy lifestyle. We were tempted by the outdoor seating available in the open terrace, but as it was a slightly chilly evening, we opted to sit inside. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the interior also had a relaxed tropical feel, with a variety of potted plants, an antique wooden surfboard on the wall, and lots of vintage photos of Hawaii.
We were seated at a cozy corner table. Opening the menu we were delighted to see that while there were mainstays like Spam and omelet rolls (¥680), there were also plenty of dishes with brown rice and organic vegetables. We decided to start with tofu poke (¥430), chunks of tofu and finely diced spring onions marinated in tangy seasonings, and salmon and avocado spring rolls (¥680). We enjoyed these with a Piña Colada and a Blue Hawaii, a sweet blue vodka-based cocktail (¥780 each).
We perused the rest of the menu while enjoying our cocktails. We decided to try the green salad, which boasted freshly cut aloe leaves topped with a tangy grapefruit dressing (¥800). We couldn’t remember what the supposed health benefits of eating raw aloe leaves was, but the salad certainly tasted nice. We moved on to the Loco Moco (¥900), which is probably the Hawaiian dish most reminiscent of Japanese food, consisting of rice topped with a teriyaki hamburger patty and a fried egg. The rice at Aloha Table is a fragrant blend of white and brown rice, adding a new depth of flavor to this traditional dish. We also tried the penne with gobo (burdock root) and ginger cream sauce (¥800), which, while not seemingly very Hawaiian, went well with the Kona Big Wave beers (¥880) we ordered.
Wanting to enjoy the laidback atmosphere a bit longer, we lingered over parfaits of kona coffee and macadamia, and chocolate and banana (¥680 each). Upon leaving we made a mental note to come back in the summer and take advantage of the outdoor seating.
Open daily (11am–11pm). Daikanyama Art Village, 17-10 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku Tel. 03-5456-7033 www.aloha-table.jp