August 11, 2012
524 Ohohia Street Honolulu, HI | www.mitchssushi.com
I would find it safe to say that most would consider sushi to be the quintessential Japanese food. However, as sushi continues to grow in popularity, there has been a shift away from its true form. Specialty sushi rolls and flavored seafood mixtures such as “spicy tuna” have become increasingly popular. While these are enjoyable, the true art of sushi lies within simplicity; allowing the freshness of ingredients to speak with the the rest falling on the chef, his palate, skill of selection, and preparation.
In Hawaii, more specifically Oahu, there are just a few places that offer this type of sushi experience. By far the most unassuming of these choices is Mitch’s Fish Market & Sushi Bar. I recall my first visit in 2008, filled with hesitation. Being in the airport industrial area of Honolulu, Mitch’s Sushi is located in a place where one does not think of high quality sushi; or any food for that matter.
You are greeted by the image of the restaurant’s owner, Craig Mitchell, with fish in hand. One step inside gives way to the “fish market” atmosphere of Mitch’s Sushi. No wood trim, no white tablecloth, no rice paper lamps; just a few simple tables and the two sushi chefs behind the counter. The menu at Mitch’s does offer a few of the aforementioned sushi rolls, but predominately features simple nigiri sushi and sashimi selections. In addition to the standard menu you’ll find specials of the day scribbled on a whiteboard near the entrance. The restaurant is very small, seating only about 30 at maximum capacity.
One of my favorite non-sushi dishes is the chefs’ preparation of kaiyaki. A giant clam is served opened, with the clam meat chopped into a mixture of mushrooms and a rich mayonnaise based sauce. These are then broiled and served hot. The sweetness of the clam is paired deliciously with the meaty quality of mushroom. The slight vinegar bite from the mayonnaise adds additional contrast to the sweet clam.
You can order every cut of fish at Mitch’s ala carte as two pieces of nigiri sushi. Among the daily specials were shima aji (striped jack) and kinmedai (golden eye snapper). As you can see the focus of Mitch’s Sushi is on the fish itself, evident in the proportion of the fish to rice. Too often do I find the ratio skewed toward the cheaper rice, but at Mitch’s I have yet to be disappointed. The fish cuts here were very fresh and flavorful. I enjoy shima aji for its slightly fatty but hearty fish flavor. The kinmedai was leaner and had a lovely sweet flavor.
In addition to the ala carte sushi Mitch’s does offer a few sets from which to order. The Sushi Ume set features eight nigiri sushi cuts along with a small sushi roll. Every piece of fish is wonderfully presented and very fresh. With this set you experience a nice range of flavors, from sweeter elements such as the shrimp and snapper to brinier notes with the salmon and roe.
To end the meal we are served a bowl of miso soup served with two shrimp heads. The miso soup base is a little stronger and saltier than most, utilizing more miso to add extra flavor. The shrimp heads add a level of sweetness to the soup and consuming the innards of the heads add a rich seafood flavor.
Mitch’s Sushi won me over from the very first visit in 2008. Although the location is a bit strange and the setup is not what you’d expect from a high quality sushi restaurant (very fish market feel), the food is undoubtedly good. The two sushi chefs are Japan natives that take great care in selecting and preparing their sushi. Mitch’s Sushi remains true to the classic form of sushi, emphasizing fresh and flavorful seafood ingredients. The restaurant has gained ever increasing popularity over these past few years, so I’d recommend reservations for anyone looking to enjoy Mitch’s Sushi.
Mitch’s Fish Market & Sushi Bar
524 Ohohia St.
Honolulu, HI 96819
Tagged with: Hawaii • Honolulu • Japanese • Mitch's Sushi • Sushi