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Opened in 1934 as a simple saimin stand, this family run Japanese restaurant and okazuya is still one of the island's best eateries. Located across from Kaimuki High School the décor is traditional Japanese with simple booth seating and a wonderful deli counter. Locals gather at lunch for hot noodle soup and teens gather at lunchtime to order a spam musubi, chow fun noodles, fried chicken or egg roll, and young adults stop by on the way to a day at the beach to pickup bento boxes of sushi and tempura. Dinner offers donburi, teishoku that include rice, miso soup, tsukemono, and tea. The prices are reasonable and the service is always quick and friendly.
Arriving via Miami, this latest creation of Kevin Aoki of Benihana of Tokyo fame draws a young, trendy and spirited after hours crowd who gather for specialty drinks like Watermelon Lychee Martinis and Tokyo Cosmopolitans. It is tucked away on the third floor of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, a couple of escalator rides to the doorway, but once inside most will be dazzled by the trendy modern décor with subtle Asian touches and a menu that will make anyone gasp by the mere magnitude of the selections. The collection of sake here is impressive and unparalleled on the island if not the country - just ask the sake sommelier. The specialty sushi rolls are grand, especially the Cuban and Doraku. Visit at least once for the experience, atmosphere and ambiance. - Lottie Tagupa
Eating at sushi restaurants can be an intimidating experience for most, and at Sushi Sasabune, it's no different. It's a world of textures, tastes and experiences. It's advisable to try out one of four lunch specials first, which are great at taste and value. For the seasoned sushi aficionado, there's the sushi bar omasake, where you'll be instructed by the sushi master on how to eat each delicious morsel. While very pricey, this is a one-of-a-kind experience highly recommended to those who respect the art of preparing Japanese food. Reservations are required.
If you like superb Teppan-style Japanese food prepared with verve and dramatic flair, then you'll be right at home here. This place won Honolulu Magazine's Hale 'Aina award for "Best Japanese Restaurant in Hawai'i" three years in a row, and it's no wonder. The knife-wielding chefs are masters of the Teppan-yaki art and terrific entertainers to boot. The cuisine is prepared with only the finest and freshest ingredients. There are two other Tanaka of Tokyo locations in Waikiki.
"Gyu-Kaku", i.e."Horn of the bull", brings Japan's favourite yakiniku restaurant to Hawaii. The main fare is charcoal Japanese BBQ. This place has taken yakiniku to a new level by combining state-of-the-art charcoal roaster systems with a bountiful menu. The menu is made up of meats, seafood, poultry and vegetables as well as delicious Japanese drinks and desserts. Check out the Black Pepper Shrimp and Black Pepper Calamari. Don't miss the happy hour where Kirin beer is sold for 99 cents.
With two sushi bars, four master sushi chefs, countless types of nigiri sushi and at least 15 kinds of sashimi, it is no wonder that this place is regularly voted best sushi in Honolulu. In addition to sushi, there is a six-page menu of cooked and raw Japanese specialties ranging from broiled fish to Tororo. The drink menu is equally impressive, including several varieties of sake. Also, the combination lunch menus are a real bargain. The entry walls are decorated with photos of visiting celebrities including Michael Jackson and Gene Hackman. The restaurant can be unpleasantly crowded at dinner, while lunch is more comfortable.
Small and cozy, this sushi hangout is the place where locals gather for pau-hana to cruise and relax after a hard day at work. The setting is simple, the sushi is fresh, and the atmosphere is warm and cordial. It’s a simple spot that gets extra points for keeping the prices low and beer very cold. Those who prefer to have their fish fresh and prepared at home know that the attached market is the spot to grab something glorious for the weekend grill. - Lottie Tagupa
Gyotaku Pearl City has a menu with a hybrid of Japanese and American cuisine, along with very reasonable prices, and a comfortable casual family-friendly atmosphere. The restaurant has been popular for generations and is a mainstay among the many dining styles Hawaii has to offer. The menu offers complete rib-eye steak dinners that come with miso soup and rice, ala carte choices, and combinations that feature udon noodles, sushi, soba, and more. There is a large free parking lot, a party room for private gatherings, and lots of friendly local style service. It's not unusual to find a line on holidays and weekend nights when it is always especially busy. - Lottie Tagupa