If you've stopped by Doraku Sushi in Waikiki in recent months and found it closed for renovations, your wait is over. Doraku Waikiki just reopened with an updated interior and new dishes and cocktails exclusive to the Royal Hawaiian Center location.
The interior features darker aesthetics, with rich wood features and steel. Though the sushi bar and bar have been expanded, the overall concept was inspired by traditional izakaya restaurants you find in Japan, complete with paper lanterns.
During a recent media event, I got to try some of the new dishes. Here are the highlights.
The new Kobe-style beef sliders have a great patty-to-bun ratio. The patties are thick, flavorful and oh-so-savory and the Okinawan sweet potato fries are dangerously addictive even without the honey wasabi dipping sauce, which delivers a salty-sweet zing.
If you’re all about that seafood diet, Doraku now has lobster sashimi ($35 for five sashimi pieces), lobster miso soup ($10.95) and lobster tempura ($14.95) served with firecracker sauce. I love lobster, so it’s nice to have these new crustacean options in Waikiki.
Oyster lovers will be happy about the new fresh oysters on the half-shell (market price) with wasabi cocktail sauce and ceviche sauce, so you can get spice and citrus with every slurp.
Doraku's popular signature rolls, including God of Fire "Kagu-Tsuchi" with spicy tuna, cucumbers, jalapenos and tuna sashimi, are still there, though some have new names. The White Dragon Roll of shrimp tempura and avocado topped with sliced hamachi is now the Hamachi Garlic Roll ($18.50 for a whole roll, $10.50 for half). The former Red Dragon Roll with shrimp tempura and spicy ahi topped with unagi is now the Ultimate Spicy Tuna Roll ($17.50).
New rolls include the Stuffed Jalapeno Roll ($16.50), which turns out to be a panko-crusted, flash-fried creation filled with crab, spicy tuna and cream cheese; and the Black Peppered Ahi Roll (half $10, full $17.95) with spicy crab, cucumber, avocado and kaiware sprouts topped with peppered ahi, sweet and spicy ponzu and cilantro. The Stuffed Jalapeno Roll does have some heat, which is offset by the creamy crab and cream cheese filling and the crunchy fried crust.
New Deluxe Sushi Platters cost $200-250 and are designed for four or five diners. The Doraku Platinum Deluxe sushi platter comes with otoro, hotate, kampachi, tuna and salmon belly sashimi; tuna, salmon and yellowtail nigiri sushi; the Doraku Ultimate, Red Dragon and White Dragon rolls; and the Chef’s Special Poke.
This is probably the most exciting (and most Instagrammable) addition. Assorted sashimi is always a winner and I like how this platter includes some of the restaurant’s most popular rolls.
A new rack of lamb dish wasn’t gamey, but it was slightly chewy, and I expected it to have more flavor. Better were the fluffy, delicate wasabi smashed potatoes, whose wasabi flavor was subtle.
Other new menu additions include steak fried rice ($14.95) on a sizzling skillet with a sunny-side up egg, grilled whole jumbo calamari ($12.95), whiskey flights and an expanded sake selection including an Aoki ginjo brewed by Kikusui.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering: Doraku still has happy hour daily from 4 to 6 p.m. with cold and hot pupus and rolls ranging from $3 to $9.
Royal Hawaiian Center
2233 Kalakaua Ave.
Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Dinner Sun-Thurs 5-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 5-11 p.m.
Free validated parking for 1 hour with minimum $10 purchase and $2 each hour for the next two hours