By Sean Morris
Special to Frolic
Sean Morris is a Honolulu public relations and Japanese media specialist whose passion is food. He’s in Japan several times a year, devouring his way through Michelin-starred restaurants, cult eateries with two-year wait lists, value-oriented spots, hidden nooks and everything in between. Seeing his posts on chirashi sushi bowls around town (@incurablepicure on Instagram), we knew who to turn to when we got hungry for a Top 5.
Chirashi zushi, or “scattered sushi,” is a polychromatic presentation of seafood and garnishes nestled atop vinegared sushi-style rice. While often prepared to celebrate special occasions in Japan, the dish is now a staple of most Japanese restaurants’ regular menus. These are five of the top chirashi on Oahu worth sampling.
No. 5: (Most cooked): Yohei Sushi, Anago chirashi, $17
Squeamish about raw fish? Worry not, as Yohei Sushi offers an anago chirashi that showcases lightly charred saltwater eel which is boiled, and then grilled. The fish is served atop a generous bowl of vinegared rice drizzled with a house-made kabayaki sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Slices of pickled ginger, cucumber, dashimaki tamago egg roll and nori complement the dish’s umami, adding savory and textural complexity.
Yohei Sushi • 1111 Dillingham Blvd., Suite E1A • Kalihi • 841-3773 • Mon-Sat, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. • Free on-site parking
No. 4 (Most affordable): Sakura-ya, Regular chirashi, $9
This modest okazu-ya on Beretania proves that chirashi can be an affordable luxury. The most pocketbook-friendly option at $9, the regular chirashi takes slices of maguro, salmon, saba, ebi, shiromi (any white-meat fish), hotate (or unagi based on availability) and tamago, and dresses them with some ikura and yamagobo (pickled burdock).
Sakura-ya • 1317 S. Beretania St. • Makiki • 597-8069 • Mon-Sat, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. • Metered street parking
No. 3 (Most casual): Maguro Brothers Hawaii, Chutoro chirashi with ikura, $16.90
This hidden gem in Chinatown’s Kekaulike Market Place may serve its chutoro chirashi in a Styrofoam container; however, while the packaging may be deceptively informal, the voluptuous portions of chutoro, akami (regular maguro), hamachi, king salmon and (for an additional cost) ikura – all topped with nori, green onion and slices of sweetened omelet – make this an indulgent lunch plate.
Maguro Brothers Hawaii • Kekaulike Market Place, 1039 Kekaulike St. Suite 113 • Chinatown • 259-7100 • Sun 8 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Mon-Sat 8 a.m.–3 p.m. • Paid public parking lots
No. 2 (Most homegrown): Yoshitsune, Chirashi, $24 at lunch, $28 at dinner
The presentation at Yoshitsune is more aligned with gomokuzushi, a provincial chirashi from the Kansai region of Japan. The classic Japanese restaurant serves its rendition with three slices of akami, two slices of chutoro and individual cuts of shiromi, ika, tako, unagi, hamachi and tamago. Scattered atop are cucumbers, sakura denbu flakes and house-made marinated shiitake, kanpyo (dried gourd) and kinshi tamago (uber-thin ribbons of egg crepes). For heartier appetites, the two-tiered Nidan Chirashi ($36) with larger portions of sashimi is available at dinner.
Yoshitsune • Park Shore Hotel, 2586 Kalakaua Ave. • Waikiki • 926-5616 • Sun-Sat, 6 a.m.–10:30 p.m. • Free validated valet parking or metered parking at the Honolulu Zoo
No. 1 (Most opulent): Sushi Izakaya Gaku, Bara chirashi, $30
Still one of the most frequented Japanese pubs in town, Gaku boasts a lavish Edomae chirashi that showcases jewels of shiromi, ebi, salmon, maguro, hamachi, hikarimono (a shiny-skinned fish, in this case saba) and cucumber, crowned with bits of uni and a slice of dashimaki tamago.
Sushi Izakaya Gaku • 1329 S. King St. • Kakaako • 589-1329 • Mon-Sat, 5-11 p.m. • Limited free parking in back, metered street parking
Hungry for more Our Top 5 rankings? Here’s the complete list.