KCP Student Makaila Puhrmann on Kua ‘Aina Restaurant

The first known arrival of Japanese to Hawaii was on the 5th of May in 1806. It involved survivors of the ill-fated ship Inawaka-maru, who had been adrift aboard their disabled ship for more than seventy days. Many years later, the first 153 Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii on February 8, 1885 as contract laborers for the sugarcane and pineapple plantations. The Japanese constituted about 43% of Hawaii’s population at their height in the 1920’s. Today, they are the second largest ethnic group in Hawaii.

Kua`Aina, which means “hidden” in the Hawaiian language, is a restaurant located in Sunshine City, a building complex in East Ikebukuro. It is Tokyo’s oldest city within a city and has a 240 meter tall Sunshine 60 skyscraper right at the center. Kua ‘Aina is a Hawaiian-style hamburger joint with amazing Western portions. Kua ‘Aina’s first branch was located at a small town in Hawaii called Haleiwa. Their delicious food spread by word of mouth and soon it was frequented by many local surfers and people from all the way from the other side of the island. The tiny hamburger shop became one of the most popular places to dine. In 1997, the first Japanese shop in Aoyama, Tokyo opened, bringing a taste of Hawaii to Japan. Japan now has a total of 30 stores. Kua ‘Aina’s mouthwatering burgers and gigantic portions will surely satisfy your hankering for the taste of home with a twist from the tropics.

Makaila Puhrmann, KCP academic year 2017 student, shares her experience on Kua ‘Aina restaurant:

I’ve taken multiple friends to Kua ‘Aina and I’ve recommended it to friends as well. Everyone has loved it! It’s my personal favorite burger place that I’ve tried in Tokyo. Kua ‘Aina is great alone or with friends!  I would definitely give it 5 stars ★★★★★

This is me in front of the restaurant. Go to Ikebukuro Station, and go out the Seibu East exit and walk towards Don Quijote, but take a left. Then at the next light, cross the crosswalk then turn right. There’s a lit arch, walk through there and you’ll see signs for SUNSHINE CITY towards the end of the road on the right side. Go down into Sunshine City and once you’re actually into Sunshine City, It will be directly on your right.

Here is the menu and some food models of a few of the options you can choose from. A lot of restaurants in Japan have wax/plastic food models outside so you can see before you buy, and they’re pretty good likenesses, too.

This is where you’ll order.

This is the menu. You can change and add things to your burger if you want. Side note: If you go with a friend, even if you are paying separately, you have to order together. They separate the price after.

After you place your order, the staff member will give you a number and you can take a seat anywhere you’d like. There are a lot of tables of various sizes, so you and your friends shouldn’t have any issues finding seating.

Here’s a view from the table my friend Siena and I sat at.

I always order the Teriyaki Burger and add pineapple. It’s very delicious! Definitely my favorite!

Here’s what Siena got. She added pineapple to the Bacon Burger. She also really enjoyed her burger!

Hungry for more? Check out more restaurant reviews here and visit our photo collection here.