Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
A sansei from Pearl City is sharing some of Hawai‘i’s favorite dishes in the faraway land where he now makes his home. Ryan Shibuya, whose restaurant, Hoku, located in the Punavuori/Eira District of Helsinki, Finland, is attracting curious diners who are finding that there’s a lot to like in such Hawai‘i favorites as Loco Moco and Bi Bim Bap and traditional Japanese fare like Tataki and Gyoza.
Shibuya has been serving up aloha in Finland for the past four years, much to the delight of Finnish locals and visitors alike. Many of the tourists are from Japan and China, and they love the unique flavors of Hoku’s Asian-European fusion cuisine.
Shibuya was back in the Islands a few months ago to purchase made-in-Hawai‘i decor and kitchenware for the second — and bigger — Hoku restaurant he plans to open in Helsinki by year’s end. His family joined him to reconnect with relatives and friends on O‘ahu.
How is it that Shibuya ended up in Finland, of all places? The answer is love.
After graduating from Pearl City High School in 1986, Shibuya enrolled at Hawai‘i Pacific University in Honolulu, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in computer science. He also worked part-time at Finance Enterprises, working on developing marketing databases for banking customers.
While attending night classes at HPU, Shibuya met a Finnish student named Satu. Concerned for her safety catching the bus at night, he offered to drive her home. Their friendship turned into love, and in 1992, the couple married. Over the years, they had three sons, two of whom were born in Hawai‘i. Ryan and Satu gave them Finnish first names and Japanese middle names.
After graduating from HPU, Shibuya had accepted a full-time job at Finance Enterprises, using technology for marketing. He eventually moved on to City Bank, where he was appointed an assistant vice president, and then worked as a marketing manager for Hawaii State Federal Credit Union.
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