More Than Just Sushi at Sushi ii
We often write about Sushi ii—its selection of rare and unusual fish keeps this little sushi bar at the top of our list. (And it seems you agree: In perhaps the biggest upset of the awards this year, Sushi ii won the Hale ‘Aina gold award for best sushi bar.) For a while, our recommendations would rarely stray from whatever was in the fish case, though there was a dutiful mention of the ever popular lamb lollipops.
But not anymore. Ricky Goings, formerly of He‘eia Pier, The Whole Ox and Prima, joined Sushi ii a few months ago and is now a one-man show in the kitchen. “I’m going back to my izakaya roots,” he says. Almost a decade ago, he spent time in Japan learning to cook, and then worked at Aki No No, where Sushi ii owner Garrett Wong first met him. (Wong, if you didn’t already know, spends a lot of his time eating at other Japanese spots.)
“We’re doing dishes different from other izakayas,” Wong says. “We’re so small, we can’t compete (with the same stuff).”
Warabi salad (left) and ankimo katsu
So there’s country-fried mirugai and a warabi salad, a riff on Goings’ He‘eia Pier days—fiddlehead ferns tossed with shaved onions and octopus suckers. Sushi ii used to throw the suckers out; now, Goings smokes them for the salad, giving it a meaty succulence. “When he doesn’t know what to do with something, he smokes it,” sushi chef Steve Shibutani says of Goings.
Goings introduces some seasonality to the menu, such as with the persimmon tempura—sweet, just barely soft chunks of the fruit coated in a lacey, crisp batter like the fried taro puffs you find at dim sum. They’re piled on mashed avocado spiked with lemon and showered with Parmesan and fried prosciutto (like bacon bits!).
Foie gras torchon
Goings’ fine dining and Japanese culinary experience meld into dishes like the ankimo (monkfish liver) katsu. It’s more like a delicate grilled cheese sandwich: the liver melting between two thin baguette slices, crisped and warm. It’s topped with cold shaved ankimo, the richness counterbalanced with an ume drizzle. As for the foie, you can get it seared with glazed strawberries or as a torchon with daikon, flooded with a dashi flavored with parmesan rind and black pepper—the combination of which tastes exactly like Cheez-its. It’s strange. It’s playful. It’s different. It’s good. Finally, Sushi ii has a kitchen to match its sushi bar.
Dishes $10 to $12
Sushi ii, inside Samsung Plaza, 655 Ke‘eaumoku St., Suite 109, 942-5350