About Aloha

Aloha Japanese Bento Express is the first restaurant in Central New York to bring together the unique, but complementary flavors of Burma, Japan and Hawaii. Born in Burma, the chef and owner spent his young adult years cooking homey Burmese food for his family and friends, drawing from recipes passed down through generations and incorporating modern and regional ingredients. The Japanese influence was born in a formal setting through restaurants in Japan where Zaw learned the art of cooking from Japanese chefs from all around the country with various influences, spending more than 10 years in the kitchen. Zaw continued to hone his craft in Hawaii as a Japanese chef, while balancing the unique tastes and flavors of Hawaiian Culture. Aloha is Zaw's masterpiece, it is the perfect meeting of cultures, a delicate contrast between Burmese, Japanese and Hawaiian flavors that make for unique but delicious and hearty dishes.

The Owners

Zaw and Thaw have dreamed of opening a restaurant since they first met. Both of them are originally from Burma, where Zaw studied and worked as a geologist. When the conflict in their home country escalated, Zaw looked for an opportunity to leave. He was fortunate enough to move to Japan where he started a new life there studying Japanese. It was in Japan that he developed his love for cooking professionally. The restaurant industry eventually took him to Hawaii, where he worked in several restaurants, honing his skills in the kitchen, dreaming of one day opening his own. Zaw and his wife Thaw explored the idea of opening a place in Hawaii, but with the money they had it would not have been feasible. Not giving up on their dream, they decided to pack their bags and move to the mainland, hoping to find the perfect place to open there. Their journey throughout the U.S. took them to places like Atlanta, the Carlinas, Ohio, Rochester, Ithaca and Niagara Falls, but they were most excited about making their dream a reality in Syracuse. Together, with their 3 year old daughter Erika, they have open Aloha Japanese. To learn more about their journey stop by the restaurant for a bite to eat!

Why We Started the Restaurant

Zaw and Thaw started the restaurant because they wanted to give people a taste of the world that they may have only seen on a map. Aloha's menu incorporates home cooking from Burma, dynamic and diverse flavors from Japan, and unique tasting food from Hawaii. Zaw and Thaw want to share their story with the people of Syracuse, and they thought the best way to convey their journey, and the most delicious way, was to give people a taste.