by Tiahni Padilla, Special to Ka ‘Ohana
Opening this summer, Dine In Hawaiian will be the first-ever Hawaiian restaurant in Hamilton, Ohio. The authentic eatery will give guests the opportunity to enjoy fresh Hawaiian food and experience the culture of Hawai‘i.
“Many people inspired me to open up this restaurant,” owner Grant Tolentino said. “Cooking food for my friends and family is what I live for, and it would be a great opportunity to share with it others.”
Tolentino, a former Windward O‘ahu resident who is of Native Hawaiian and Filipino ancestry, recently moved to Ohio so that his 7-foot son, Sage, could train for the NBA in high school and transfer to Auburn University with a full-ride scholarship. Tolentino had restaurant experience working at Duke’s in Waikīkī. His head chef will be his cousin Aaron Kimura, who recently graduated from culinary school.
Dishes will include some of Tolentino’s favorite family meals such as kalua pig, shoyu chicken, teriyaki chicken, fried rice, teriyaki burger and fries, haupia and a Hawaiian plate. Plates start at $10.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Tolentino said he will follow CDC restrictions to make sure that the restaurant is safe for everyone. Customers will need to stay six feet apart, and the restaurant will have a layout that fosters social distancing. There will also be takeout and dine-in options.
Even with the restrictions, Tolentino hopes the restaurant will be a success and is already planning to branch out to other locations in the future. He would like to bring local Hawaiian people to work at the restaurant.
The restaurant’s Instagram page shows photos of a fried rice dish with the caption, “Uncle Grant’s famous fried rice, made with aloha.”
One person responded, “My mouth is watering just thinking about it.”