The 50th state to join the USA, Hawaii is a beautiful archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. Its lush fertile grounds provide an abundance of delicious produce while the blue ocean waters carry succulent fish and seafood, producing some of the tastiest sushi around. From coastal restaurants to inland eateries, here are 10 great spots to sample some of the best sushi in Hawaii.
Opened by a third generation Japanese American, D.K. Kodama, Sansei, which means ‘third generation’ in Japanese, is a seafood restaurant. Located in Lahaina, Sansei has a total of four locations in the state all of which feature award winning ‘New Wave’ sushi. One example is the panko crusted ahi roll, which is sashimi grade Hawaiian ahi, spinach, and arugula wrapped in a panko crust, flashed-fried and accompanied by a mild soy wasabi butter sauce. Another innovative highlight is the seared foie gras nigiri sushi with caramelized Maui onions, mango, and a drizzle of unagi glaze. Between the creative menu and inviting atmosphere, it is no wonder this place is a favorite.
Miso Phat opened in 2013. Located in Lahaina, they specialize is sushi. The owner, Shawn Steadman, often goes out on his boat, ‘Shiso Phat’, and catches fish to provide the rrestaurant with the freshest fish available. The menu includes nigiri, sashimi, sushi rolls, temaki rolls, plus a selection of specialty rolls. Succulent innovative highlights to note are the TNT roll, which is a tempura roll topped with ahi poke and served with honey, and a California roll wrapped with yellowtail, then baked and topped with scallops, tobiko, bonito, scallions, and sesame seeds. A popular sushi bar, there is often a wait at this cosy and friendly establishment.
Some of the best food is often found in what can only be described as a little ‘hole in the wall’, and this is true for Koiso Sushi Bar. Located in a nondescript strip mall in Kihei, this intimate restaurant owned and operated by Mr. Hiro and his wife is a true gem specialising in Japanese style sushi. Sushi aficionados can have a look at the menu, written on white boards, to select from the daily specials, or they can order omakase where the decision is left to the chef! A well loved spot with approximately 15 seats, reservations are mandatory and should be made well in advance.
Located in Hawaii in the North Kohala district on the Big Island, Sushi Rock is a sushi lover’s paradise. Tucked inside the historic Hawi Hale building, this restaurant prides itself on using the freshest locally sourced and organic ingredients when possible in their innovative cuisine. Delicious creative rolls to note are the Purple Passion, which includes ahi poke, wasabi-infused purple sweet potato, apple, and sashimi or seared tenderloin, and the Inside-Out Paisano with white fish, goat cheese, caramelised Maui onion, organic greens and parmesan. Open daily, this friendly spot will appeal to a wide range of tastes as it also serves nigiri, sashimi, traditional rolls, vegetarian and vegan choices, plus gluten free items.
Chef and owner David Abrahams has created a multi cultural culinary experience for diners visiting Red Water Café. Located in the inland community of Waimea, this café serves a variety of lunch and dinner dishes and has a full sushi bar. In a warm and inviting Hawaiian styled interior with live music several nights a week, customers can try mouth watering options, such as the Fuji roll with tuna, crab, shrimp tempura, and avocado prepared tempura style accompanied by spicy aioli. Vegetarians will enjoy the veggie roll made with asparagus, avocado, cucumber and kaiware sprouts. Because this is a farm to table establishment, visitors can rest assured that they will be offered only the freshest ingredients available.
Wanting a relaxed environment in which diners can feast on delicious Japanese cuisine and sushi, Mr. Shiono, a part time resident of Hawaii, opened Sushi Shiono. Located in Kailua-Kona, this restaurant specialises in nigiri, sashimi, plus a variety of rolls all made with the highest quality of ingredients available, which includes locally sourced fish and produce. Some creative highlights are the Godzilla roll with shrimp tempura wrapped with avocado and freshwater eel plus a topping of special sauces and the famous Hawaiian volcano roll, which is a spicy tuna roll wrapped with tuna and avocado and topped with a special sauce and chopped macadamia nuts. Whether a family dinner or a romantic rendezvous, patrons will be impressed not only by the cuisine and extensive sake list but also the attentive service.
Part of the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai at Historic Ka’ūpūlehu, ‘ULU is a gorgeous and casual restaurant specialising in fish and seafood. By building relationships with local farmers and fishermen, this establishment is able to have at least 75% of its menu feature locally sourced ingredients. The Sushi Lounge offers sashimi, nigiri and sushi rolls, such as crunchy shrimp with jalapeños, plus several beverages like sake, wine, beer, and many hand crafted or ‘farm to bar’ libations. Try the pineapple and honey cocktail made with ciroc coconut vodka, fresh pineapple, and Big Island honey for a taste of Hawaii. With beautiful seating arrangements, diners may choose to sit in the warm Hawaiian interior or on the outside patio with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s all about trust at Sushi Sasabune. Sushi lovers must trust Chef Seiji Kumagawa if they want to eat at this sushi restaurant as it is omakase-style, which means it is the chef’s choice. In a cosy and simplistic interior, diners are not presented with a menu, however, guests may choose whether they want western (more fish) or eastern (more seafood) omakase. There are some rules however, the melt in your mouth sushi should not be seasoned with soy sauce or wasabi unless the chef says otherwise, and it must be eaten in one bite. Anyone who loves sushi should not miss this truly unique culinary experience, which includes up to 13 courses.
Pairing the fish with the flavors of the island’s local produce, Chef Hide Takahashi at Banzai Sushi Bar creates some of the tastiest sushi in Hawaii, and by working with local fishermen and farmers, diners are guaranteed to feast on the highest quality,locally sourced ingredients. Located in Haleiwa, the menu features everything from nigiri to temaki (hand rolls) plus speciality sashimi and maki mono (rolls). Delectable highlights include hamachi jalapeño ponzu, which is sashimi grade hamachi with sliced jalapeños and garlic ponzu sauce, and the lemon drop, a spicy tuna roll topped with hamachi, lemon wheels and ponzu sauce. The restaurant also has vegetarian and gluten free options and an impressive drink menu, try a saketini, all in a friendly Hawaiian atmosphere.
Located in Honolulu, Morio’s Sushi Bistro is popular with people returning again and again to sample Morio’s mouth watering fare. Diners must bring their own drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), there is no corkage fee, as the bistro does not sell beverages. Bring extra for Morio and the staff as they love the kind gesture. All meals start out with a complimentary Asian salad and miso soup followed by a choice from the regular menu, which features nigiri and various rolls (regular and hand), or daily specials. A unique experience for sure, reservations are strongly recommended at this fun bistro as they can sometimes be booked months in advance.