Nobu Waikiki

The sushi bar at Nobu Waikiki, right, is part of an interior designed by the Rockwell Group, a New York City-based firm that also designed Nobu restaurants in the Bahamas, Dallas and Dubai.
I was prepared for Nobu Waikiki, to be expensively decorated, pricey and packed with (what passes in Honolulu for) socialites and celebrities.

I was surprised by three things here. One, what a Japanese restaurant it is. Two, how good it is. And, three, how casual and fun it is.

The Japanese part shouldn’t have surprised me. Nobu Matsuhisa began by sweeping the floor at a Shinjuku sushi bar. But he’s been away from Japan for a long time. First, to Peru at the request of some Japanese investors. He fell out with his partners, who didn’t share his appreciation of expensive ingredients. He ended up with his own restaurant in Alaska—which promptly burned down, uninsured...

ARCHIVED:  Read John Heckathorn's entire review in our "Casual Dining?," July 2007 issue.