Most people, like me, enjoy sushi very much. If you are obsessed with sushi, however, you have been waiting for Tokyo’s most influential sushi chef to open his first restaurant outside of Japan, right here in Hawaii.
Keiji Nakazawa started working in restaurants in 1978 when he was just 15 years old, and opened Sushi Sho when he was 30. He’s competed against Iron Chef Morimoto and published a book, “Sushiya no ningen-ryoku” (The Abilities Behind the Sushi Bar). He has trained — and is openly proud of — many proteges who have gone on to open very successful restaurants of their own, some of which are named after him (Sushi Sho Masa, Sushi Sho Shingo and Sushi Sho Saito), so never felt a need to open another branch, especially not outside of Japan.
But here he is, at the Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki, with his first overseas restaurant. He opened quietly a few weeks ago, in true old-school Japanese style of wanting no publicity. During this soft opening period, the restaurant offered their omakase at just $200 per person (actually, $245 with tax and tip). It was hard to get a reservation, since sushi insiders were clamoring for a seat, especially at that price. As of October 1, the omakase goes up to $300 per person, but that doesn’t seem to discourage diners — one friend said he couldn’t get a reservation until December.
There are two seatings per night and just 10 seats at the bar, and you can only call for reservations between 2 and 4 p.m. each day. If you can’t get a live body, leave a message, since the staff said the phone rings nonstop during that little window.
I’m going to show you what we ate for our omakase, but note that the menu changes with the seasons, so if you’re going in December, you won’t be getting the same things. Also, if you’re a fan of his Tokyo restaurant, note that he incorporates some Hawaii ingredients here to give it local flair.
Was it worth it? This was 31 exquisite bites of Japan-quality sushi; I just had a 21-course grand omakase at O Ya for $285. If you’re a sushi fan who appreciates the quality and skill behind the dishes, I’d say this was worth the splurge.
Oh, and for you Hawaii Five-0 fans, this place is one of Daniel Dae Kim’s new favorite restaurants. Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself.
383 Kalaimoku St.
A credit card must be provided, and you will be charged a 50 percent cancellation fee if you cancel on the day of the reservation.