Sushi Sasabune – the other omakase

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Where’s my favorite sushi in Hawaii? Without hesitation it’s Sushi Sasabune. I’ve been there five times and have come away amazed and beyond satisfied each time. Then why only five visits? Well, there’s a concept called living within your means that prevents me from dining there more often. Yet, even though it’s pricey, it’s worth it every time, even with the “rules,” or as I call them, heavily suggested recommendations. The head chef’s reputation for dictating how sushi should be eaten at the sushi bar has earned him the nickname of “Sushi Nazi,” which I believe is totally undeserved. There’s absolutely nothing wrong telling customers how to fully appreciate the art you’re sharing. The rules are basically suggestions on which pieces to dip in shoyu and which to eat while still warm. Nothing much beyond that. So if you’ve never been there, don’t let his reputation scare you. You can also choose to dine at a table if you want to eat your sushi in peace.

Whenever I’ve gone to Sasabune, I’ve sat at the bar and ordered omakase, or chef’s choice, which usually consists of about a dozen courses, less if you’re a light eater. During one visit, I noticed that the couple from Japan sitting next to me were getting different dishes even though we both ordered omakase. What was going on? Was it some kind of favoritism toward Japanese nationals? I demanded an explanation. Well, okay, demanded is a strong word. But I really was curious.

The waiter explained that there were two choices of omakase – Eastern and Western. He said most diners are given the more traditional Western menu if they don’t explicitly tell the chef they want the Eastern. So of course I wanted to sample this mysterious Eastern menu, and luckily, a few friends were curious as well.

Here’s a look at Sasabune’s Eastern omakase:

Sushi Sasabune - The Other Omakase

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Ah, those famous two words, "Trust me." Intimidating for some, comforting for others.

Sushi Sasabune
1417 S. King St.
808-947-3800

33 comments
DorisDvonch
DorisDvonch

I've been to Sasabune omakase several times and never heard of the Eastern set... thanks for the tip!

lihinggirl
lihinggirl

*drool* this is indeed a wow post, like @nonstopmari said. thanks so much for sharing your eastern omakase menu experience. hope to experience it someday too. 

WillL
WillL

My only regret was that I heard about this monkfish liver as one of the eastern omakase courses and it did not come out.  I should have requested it.  

mjc_808
mjc_808

Fabulous post! How was the uni from Alaska? Every time at Sasabune I've had it from Santa Barbara which is usually best of the best! When I order the western omakase I order uni at the end since uni isn't part of the western omakase. My friend prefers the signature negitoro nigiri that isn't part of the eastern omakase. Great post and I look forward to more of your restaurant postings!

nonstopmari
nonstopmari moderator

Another wow food post today! U guys are hard core if u can take raw innards and fermented garnishes. How was akule vs saba? I always think cooked akule tastes like cooked saba but have never had raw or side by side. Great idea to incl pic of bill, btw, i may borrow that.

WillL
WillL

You innard eating mofo.  Haha, great post.  Thanks for the fun - best sushi experience ever and I'm glad I had my maiden voyage at Sasabune with the Eastern omakase.  

Melissa808
Melissa808 moderator

So wait, the Western one is cheaper? Or have all the prices gone up? 

 

Next time you eat green tea ice cream, try @nctrnlbst 's trick: order a side of wasabi. Take a tiny tiny bit of wasabi in your spoon, then a normal sized dollop of ice cream with it. "Trust me" on this one.....after Ed introduced me to that, it's the only way I'll eat green tea ice cream. (You cannot mix the two together; you have to do each spoonful individually.)

DianeSeo
DianeSeo

You had me at the king salmon and ika. Is there a difference in price between the Western and Eastern omakase? How much?

cai_mommy
cai_mommy

This is great! I also didn't know there was an Eastern vs Western omakase. I really appreciated you sharing the cost at the end. Always good to know what to expect for what you pay... darn that "living within your means" situation! 

Annoddah_Dave
Annoddah_Dave

MC:  Thanks for showing us the Eastern omakase.  I think the Western one is a bit cheaper, as it contains more of the run of the mill seafood, but still oh so guud.  Some people have said that the Sasabune experience is better than s*x!  I guess I better go this weekend!! LOL  I know others have reviewed Morio's but you and your buddies should take a whack at that one.  A bit cheaper and it's BYOB.

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

@lihinggirl Thank you so much for reading! Hope you get to try it soon!

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

 @WillL Try it when you get to Gaku. I think you'll like it. It's one of their specialties.

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

 @mjc_808 Wow, thanks so much! The uni was great. Honestly, I like uni but don't love it so I can take it or leave it but the one we had that night was pretty remarkable. Enough so that my friend ordered another round of it! Thanks for reading!

 

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

Come on Mari, I'm a yobo! We eat innards and fermented foods everyday! LOL  I actually preferred the sabe to the akule. And as for the picture of the bill, yeah, I figured people should know what they're getting into before they go.

mjc_808
mjc_808

@DianeSeo my experience having had both a few times is the price was the same.

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

 @DianeSeo Honestly, I don't think the price is all that different. Possibly a little more if anything. On my previous visits to Sasabune I've always spent at least $150 or more.

 

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

 @cai_mommy I know, right? LOL If only we could eat like this all the time. But then I guess it wouldn't be as special.

 

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

 @Annoddah_Dave I love Morio's too. Casual, cheap and fun. Another option for those watching their budgets is Kona Kai. Sushi is very similar to Sasabune's at a much lesser cost. Plus, plenty of other izakaya options. One of my favorite places.

 

mjc_808
mjc_808

 @MyongChoi  @WillL

You do need to have the ankimo (monkfish liver) at both Sasabune AND Gaku. Both are good, but very different (at least to me). The one served at Gaku has the texture more similar to a torchon of foie gras and the one at Sasabune seems more "gelatin" like

DianeSeo
DianeSeo

 @MyongChoi BTW, I'm saving this quote from your piece: "Sometimes, you just gotta splurge and enjoy."

WillL
WillL

 @MyongChoi  @DianeSeo it's probably at least $50 more (worth it).  Ken helped us get a little break on the final tally for knowing a friend of the chef.  

mjc_808
mjc_808

@MyongChoi glad you mentioned Kona Kai. Some people love it there and others not so much but my one and only visit there when it was at the old location was phenomenally excellent. It rivaled the Sasabune experience and can't wait to check them out now that they are on Waialae.

edmorita
edmorita moderator

@MyongChoi @Melissa808 there's some funky chemistry going on on that spoon, but it's yumminess!

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

 @mjc_808  Yeah, love that place. I've had many a good time there. I've yet to visit their new location myself. But the owner James is a really cool dude and knows his stuff.