Hawai’i: Sushi King

Friday, September 8, 2006 9comments No tags Permalink 0

I’m always on the lookout for good lunch bargains. Sacrificing taste for money is a nono, but a good deal makes any meal better (at least to a certain extent!)
Located right on King Street, between TCBY and the okazuya Fukuya, Sushi King has been a long time resident in the neighborhood. Which gives it a good deal of credibility considering the fact that many neighboring shops and restaurants have come and gone in the past few years.

A daily $8.25 lunch special (same deal for meals after 10:30 pm) if offered, consisting quite a bit of tasty food. Lol. Not detailed enough? Here goes!

Each set meal begins with a cup of hot tea, miso soup and picked vegetables. The soup is wonderful – more substantial than what’s usually given at typical (or more authentic) Japanese restaurant, settled at the bottom of the bowl is healthy blend of long rice noodles, two varieties of konyaku, tofu and fishcake along with the requisite green onions. It’s surprisingly filling and if served in a bigger bowl, the soup could easily be sold as an entree.

From the “Lunch Special” menu are options ranging from tempura to tonkatsu. Each entree is accompanied by a choice of spicy ahi roll, california roll or a duo of cone sushi. There was a little note beneath the ahi roll on the menu: “limited daily quantity.” So go early if this is what you’re after. They do a good job with the, knowing that locals like a good deal. Though not rolled in the most professional manner, they do right with little rice and a near overflow of spicy diced ahi. My dad ordered the Tempura set consisting a mix of seafod and vegetables. Though not as light and crisp like the ones at Yanagi or the long departed Tatsu’s in Manoa, I would never say these were mediocre. In fact, they seem to fall in a different category that I’ve only encountered in Hawaii. It’s called (or I call it) the Local Tempura. This batter, which I recognize from other non-Japanese run Japanese restaurants and okazuyas around the island, is slightly thicker and sweeter. You still have the crunch and flavor, only there seems to be more weight and substance. Don’t think heavier or greaser, though it may in fact be, but think more filling and tummy warming. I hesitate to compare the two, as traditional tempura seems more refined and elegant while this local kine tempura is what I crave on a rainy day in paradise.

The Unagi on the menu had my name written alllll over it. I love unagi! I love it sooo much that…that I don’t even know. Just amazing stuff. Who would have ever imagined that eel, of all animals, could taste so incredible. It’s the ultimate slithering sea creature version of the misoyaki butterfish, more smooth and creamy, demanding a bowl of warm short grain rice to huge it’s little bits and soak every bit and drip the teriyaki like sauce. Yes, this was good as I expected. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just good, straightforward unagi. That’s all I got and all I asked for.

My mom’s ahi katsu looked like two little hand on a plate of rice. Once I got over my initial laugh, I was envious. Mmmm. The fillets were dredged in a panko batter and fried, quickly locking in the sweet flavor of the ahi. It was a little overcooked, like what often happens when you order fried ahi in restaurant. But can you really complain? It was only $8.25! I often wish they would purposely undercook it, so that just the outside layer is cooked, leaving the call of a pink sashimi. Of course, the fish would have to be very fresh…which is maybe it is not? Lol. Don’t say don’t tell. As long as it tastes good.

Or you can be like my sister and get…what else. The udon. Again. It’s a wonder she never gets tired of eating the same dish over and over. It’s the first thing she checks for on the menu of any Japanese restaurant. And it’s the only thing she orders. She noted the broth was on the salty side, but the noodles were well cooked with just the right chew. Hah, I just realized the only thing in the picture is a bowl of noodles with 2 pieces of fishcake. Man. I would have missed my meat!
The total rang up to just over $30 for the four of us. I told you it was a good deal, didn’t I?

Sushi King
2700 S King Street
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 947-2836

  • RON
    September 8, 2006

    yeah, using panko flakes yeilds a crispy-er tempura, but the local style tempura (dredged in batter), holds up better, especially if the tempura is left sitting out for a while, as happens at the neighborhood delicatessens (circa 1980s). I’m not absolutely sure, but perhaps using thick batter in place of panko flakes became the more common way to make tempura here because panko flakes weren’t readily available at marketplaces, sort of what’s responsible for using Coleman’s Mustard instead of wasabi paste for sashimi in Hawaii style. BTW, I thought your photo of the restaurant’s interior really captured it’s ambience. (Took me forever to code your picture into da comment.)

  • anonymous
    September 8, 2006

    I do miss Hawaii. I was looking for information on Hawaiian Plate lunches when I found your site. I have not had good teriyaki since I left. We do have a new place in Universal City (where I live) called Sushi Chi. It is all the sushi you can eat, along with a Chinese and Korean buffet. Its no bad. They have real sushi chefs making the product.San Antonio of course is known for its TEX-MEX food. One of best thing being the puffy taco, a wonderful San Antonio creation, as its name relates is a puffed up taco. Of course the wonderful smoky Texas Bar-B-Que also tops my list of must have eats.Check this link below for a review. The second review talks about them. The patio caf in Universal City is about a block from my house. http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A208403Bob in San Antonio

  • Kathy YL Chan
    September 8, 2006

    Hey Ron!I think I enjoy both types of tempura, the light & flaky and the local style…though I wonder how high end restaurants in Japan would react to the local style one – shock and horror perhaps? lol :)hehe…that’s my dad in the resaurant interior picture!Hi Bob!Oooh, puffy taco! I’m already picturing it in my head…deep fried, I’m guessing? Man, that must be good! mmm, Hawaii’s also lacking in the good bbq department – if you don’t count the local teriyaki kind :) Thanks for the link! Going to check it out now!

  • anonymous
    September 9, 2006

    I love Sushi King. It is cheap, especially the early bird specials and the late nite ones. The quality is great and I too love their miso soup. They sometimes vary it with new ingredients (even potato) to surprise you. Thanks for sharing your lunch adventure.

  • Chubbypanda
    September 9, 2006

    Hi Kathy,I really hate blog spammers, don’t you? What a dork.I’m really grooving on this Sushi King review. I might have to go to one of my favorite sushi restaurants just to get rid of the cravings. =D- CP

  • Kathy YL Chan
    September 9, 2006

    Hey Kitchen Mama!Agreed! – the miso was by far the best I’ve had in a very long time :)Hey Chubby Panda!Blog spammers – bah! Don’t they have anything better to do? Report back on the sushi visit if you go…especially if you have uuuunagi! Or teeempura. Gah. Now you make me crave sushi again! :)

  • anonymous
    September 11, 2006

    hm….u got me craving japanese…

  • anonymous
    September 12, 2006

    Hi Kathy – You know I always saw this place when I used to grab food at Fukuya, but never tried it! Looks pretty good. You know Fukuya was pretty darn expensive at the time I left the Islands, I wonder how much stuff there costs now???

  • Kathy YL Chan
    September 14, 2006

    Hey Kirk,Haven’t actually gone into Fukuya’s in a while…but they we’re pretty pricey! Mmmm, I love it when people bring their teri beef spam sushi to potlucks – now that’s really local sushi! :)

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