Sushi Izakaya Gaku

 June 5, 2011

1329 South King Street Honolulu, HI 96814   

This is one of the restaurants on our list of “places to eat before we move to the mainland”. I have long heard good things about Sushi Izakaya Gaku from a fellow foodies and was excited to see what kind of delicious izakaya bites it had to offer.

We made reservations for the first seating of the night. Knowing how popular the restaurant is I wanted to make sure we could get a table. After being seated we were greeted by a very friendly server who went over the night’s specials with us and made a few recommendations. After selecting a few items we placed our order. For tonight’s selection we had:

Dashimaki Tamago – Branded with the “Gaku” kanji

Ono Tataki – Lightly grilled and served with ponzu

Smoked chicken – Onions and butter sauce accompany the light smokey flavor.

Assorted nigiri sushi – Salmon, hamachi, and maguro sushi.

Crab shiso leaf agedashi – Dashi broth provides great umami flavor to the sweet crab and shiso.

Smoked bacon – Smoked outside in the parking area during the day for a nice, strong flavor.

Negihamachi Tartar – Fresh, fatty hamachi tartar with masago, ponzu, and a quail egg.

Caramel custard – Light and creamy with the sweet, salty flavor of caramel.

The kitchen at Gaku operates quite effectively I must say. Our dishes came out very shortly after ordering but did not come all at once. They were timed well between each plate allowing us to enjoy one then move on to the next while it was still hot. I’ve always heard great things about the fish quality here so I had to try a few pieces of nigiri sushi. The fish at Gaku is about as good as I’ve had it around the islands but at a surprisingly great price. The other fresh fish dish we had tonight, the Ono Tataki (recommended by our server) was also very delicious. I loved the charred flavor on the fish and you could tell that the ono was very, very fresh. It had all the excellent sweet, buttery flavors you’d expect from fresh fish. We also really enjoyed the negihamachi tartar. Great flavors and a great presentation of the dish as well.

The two smoked dishes were both recommended by our server. I dare say that, even though Gaku is known for its fish and seafood, the smoked chicken was one of our favorite dishes of the night. It had a great smoke flavor throughout, with an extremely tender and buttery texture I have not experienced in smoked chicken before. This may have been some of the most tender and juicy chicken I’ve ever had.

Gaku certainly lived up to the expectations I had. Great fish quality, excellent preparation, great flavors, and very attentive service all came together for a great dining experience. I’ll have to move Gaku to a new list: Places I want to eat when I’m back visiting the islands.

Gaku Sushi Izakaya on Urbanspoon

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  • Kimberly

    oooh how was the crab shiso leaf agedashi?! that’s everything that i love in a dish- crab, shiso, agedashi! was this place pricey? how is it compared to gazen?

    • Nom Nom Foodie

      The crab shiso leaf agedashi was great. The agedashi broth is excellent! Gaku is on the pricier side, for all the dishes above and tip was just about $90 for two people with no drinks. Compared to Gazen I like Gaku better, but of course you spend a little more.