Photography by Olivier Koning
Sushi was born as a simple Japanese street food. Over a few centuries of world travel, sushi matured into a culinary art with its own colors, textures and shapes created by slicing, marinating and combining the simple with the unusual. At the crossroads of the Pacific, Hawaii has a sushi all its own. To experience sushi fully, gather your courage to sit at the bar and ask for the itamae’s (sushi chef) omakase, then take in everything from the knowledgeable knife work to the epicurean ecstasy.
Craving sake with your sushi? Learn more about this year's Joy of Sake event.
Also, take a look at our Sushi Glossary for help with those many Japanese culinary terms.
Nobu's seared maguro (tuna) sashimi petals with limu and daikon.
Nobu Waikiki’s scallop sashimi discs with a tart yuzu squeeze, spicy green shiso leaf and black Mediterranean sea salt over cucumber slices (below). The arrangement of the sashimi recalls countless rosary windows in Europe’s cathedrals.
Nobu Waikiki, 2233 Helumoa Road, 237-6999. www.noburestaurants.com.
Imanas Tei’s exquisitely presented saba is the epitome of the art of sushi. Seasoned rice, lightly dressed, silvery-blue mackerel, and scallion shavings support a translucent, pickled albino kombu (large, flat seaweed).
Tokkuri-tei’s crunchy-edged Ahi-Tartare cake is flavorful, colorful and served in an only-in-Hawaii setting.
Imanas Tei, 2626 S. King St. at University, 941-2626. Tokkuri-Tei, 611 Kapahulu Ave., 739-2800.
Honolulu’s most innovative sushi begins and ends in the making of maki. And in a town where ‘ahi is king, Mark Pomaski, Roy’s new sushi genius, masterfully infuses his crispy-topped Ahi-Ten roll with a truffle aioli that fills your head with the richest scent a chef can exploit. He also is a master with the knife, toying around with garnishes and cuts that keep you smiling both with your eyes and your tongue.
Roy’s Waikiki, 226 Lewers St., 923-7697. www.roysrestaurant.com.
If you’re not that adventuresome, try Kaiwa’s elegantly simple chutoro fatty tuna .
Kaiwa, Waikiki Beach Walk, second floor, 924-1555.
Nobu’s delightfully crisp cucumber cup is filled with imported Japanese uni topped with a farm-fresh quail egg.
Mitch’s Sushi built its no-nonsense reputation on flying in the freshest fish from around the world. These extraordinary efforts are no clearer than in the transcendent kohada (gizzard shad fish).
Experiencing the wild New Zealand salmon redefines how you conceive of raw fish. Like successful conceptual or minimalist art, a straight-forward, two-ingredient nigirzushi is savored first as an idea, but, lucky for you, turns out to actually exist.
Mitch’s Sushi, 524 Ohohia St. at Ualena, 837-7774.
Imanas Tei’s hirame halibut sashimi is a simple seafoam wave graced with local ogo and daikon. It not only visually reveals but also physically confirms the unique potential of this rarified culinary art.
Andrew Rose is an artist who regularly contributes articles on arts and culture to the magazine. His solo exhibition at Nu‘uanu Gallery opens Oct. 23; you can preview the show at www.andrewrose.org.