Sushi Sasabune

 June 27, 2011

1417 S King St Honolulu, HI 96814

Tonight was a special dinner to celebrate my birthday. My wife was so kind to offer to treat me to dinner at Sushi Sasabune. I’ve dined at Sasabune once in the past more than 5 years ago, and remembered it to be one of the best sushi experiences I ever had in Hawaii. Years later Sasabune still has a great reputation for excellent sushi, so I looked forward to tonight’s meal with great anticipation.

Naturally we reserved seating at the sushi bar to enjoy the “omakase” menu from the chef. I’ve heard complaints that the omakase menu, which is supposed to feature the best “chef’s choice” ingredients of the day, doesn’t really change very much. I noted the observation of others but realistically I hadn’t been here in so long that my experience was going to be fairly unique.

And so we sat down at the bar and trusted the chef’s behind the bar to produce their best. The normal omakase runs 13 courses (if you go to the end, you can stop anytime) but since we are leaving the island soon I pushed for an additional few on the end to make the most of this sushi experience. Here is a very image heavy post of what we had tonight (there were two courses I forgot to take a photo of, and for that I apologize):

1st Course – White albacore tuna from Canada, Bluefin tuna from Baja: A great starting dish with fresh, fatty, delicious fish accented by the sweet tang and citrus of the ponzu sauce.

2nd Course – Baby calamari stuffed with blue crab: A very interesting dish with good flavors. The textural contrasts between the chewy calamari and creamy, soft crab filling was very nice.

3rd Course – Toro served with and without sauce: Fish of this grade and quality pretty much speaks for itself. Delicious and buttery in texture.

4th Course – Flounder (halibut) and seared golden eye snapper: The halibut was very clean and fresh tasting with a hint of spice. The golden eye snapper caught me by surprise with a nice, heavy flavor that was very fresh.

6th Course – New Zealand King salmon with kep, Scallop with Japanese sea salt: The salmon was as soft and buttery as I’ve ever had and the scallop was a nice blend of natural sweetness and salt.

7th Course – Seattle Kushi oyster, Oyster topped with marinated ikura, baked Boston oyster: All three oysters tasted very fresh and had that great “ocean” taste to them. I enjoyed the marinated ikura and the baked oyster very much.

8th Course – Local moi, Canada spot prawn: The moi was something I haven’t had before in sushi form. A semi-fatty fish with very subtle flavor. The spot prawn was delicious, so wonderfully sweet and tender. A squeeze of lemon juice gave a slight citrus tang to counteract the sweet prawn.

9th Course – Snow crab with kani miso, amberjack: I’m a sucker for amberjack so I really enjoyed this piece of sushi. Very fatty and tender in texture. The snow crab had a very sweet flavor balanced nicely by the slightly salty miso.

10th Course – Negitoro – Sasabune’s signature dish: This negitoro is interesting in that it holds its shape even in nigiri form. The toro is very soft, oily, and buttery in your mouth. All the great flavors of fresh fish come out in this “signature” dish.

11th Course – South African Rock Lobster: A beautiful piece of lobster. The meat is perfectly cooked, very tender and succulent.

12th Course – Anago (sea eel) on sushi egg: One of the softest sushi egg preparations I’ve ever had combined with the rich flavor of eel. Excellent bite.

14th Course – Fresh Uni: Much like toro, really fresh uni speaks for itself. Very sweet with a hint of saltiness from the ocean.

15th Course – Young abalone (Santa Barbara), Seattle giant clam: The abalone was chewy with a very nice salty ocean flavor that tasted fresh. The giant sea clam was delicious and tender.

Tonight’s omakase experience at Sasabune was every bit as delicious as I remember from the last time I came here years ago. The fish and seafood selections were all very fresh and delicious. A few standouts for me were the sashimi course (1st), seared golden eye snapper (4th), New Zealand King Salmon w/ kelp (6th), baked Boston oyster & oyster with ikura (7th), Canada spot prawn (8th), South African Rock Lobster (11th) and the uni (14th).

All-in-all an excellent birthday meal and a wonderful experience. Some people might be put off by the chef’s request to eat certain courses in a certain way, such as “in one bite” or “no soy sauce”. But at this level of sushi, you should expect that sitting at the bar for omakase comes with certain expectations of the customer as well as the chef. At Sasabune, diners at the sushi bar are asked to “trust” the chef. As long as he keeps putting out sushi with this quality and flavor, I have no problems eating whatever he serves up on my plate.

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  • Kimberly

    wow!! looks amazing! what a great bday gift. i especially like the anago on tamago. YUm!

  • Alexandra Roland

    beautiful pictures! drooling looking through them, looks delicious!