Ahi (yellowfin tuna), aku (skipjack tuna), and mahi mahi are just a few types of the fresh fish caught daily in the waters of Hawai’i. Fresh fish inspires thoughts of sashimi, tempura and sushi, and the restaurant scene here is heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine, so at least one meal of your Hawaiian vacation should feature sushi. Here’s a select list of restaurants that are rolling up the Big Island’s finest sushi.
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
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Featured Photo: Sansei
Sushi in Kona
Open for takeaway and dine-in, Sushi Shino delivers Japanese cuisine and sushi prepared by seasoned Japanese chefs using only the finest and freshest fish available, including local Kona fish. You can make reservations for the dining room or the sushi bar, and reserve the omakase (chef’s tasting menu). We also recommend the “Shionno Boat” — seven pieces of assorted sashimi, four pieces of California and spicy tuna roll, six pieces of tempura and chicken and beef teriyaki. Open Friday through Tuesday 5:30pm to 9:00pm.
Sushi in Kohala
Kawaihae Kitchen offers sushi, salads, plate lunches, rice bowls and bento for takeout. The sushi rolls are made fresh to order, and the options are limited but tasty: California roll, ahi or spicy ahi roll, shrimp tempura roll, Korean chicken roll and vegetarian roll. Don’t forget to ask about the daily specials. Open Monday through Friday from 11am to 2pm. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Part of the acclaimed DK Restaurant Group, Sansei has locations on several Hawaiian islands. The Sansei concept is serving contemporary sushi and innovative fusion seafood in a funm lively setting. Open Thursday through Monday 5pm to 8pm.
Ulu Ocean Grill + Sushi Lounge
Located in the Four Seasons Resort at Hualalai, this oceanfront restaurant offers exceptional views and a sushi lounge menu separate from the regular dinner and drinks menu. Sip on the Hualalai Black Lava Manhattan while you decide which combinations of nigiri, sashimi and specialty rolls to order. Ulu Ocean Grill + Sushi Lounge is open daily 6:30am to 11am and 5:30pm to 9:30pm.
Sushi in Hilo
If you’re in Hilo and you’re craving sushi, head straight to Sakura’s. The price is right and the menu offers many great options. The lunchtime menu includes a few sushi specials; dinner’s has a long list of specialty rolls. A delicious place to start is the Big Island roll — tuna, crab, avocado and cheese, topped with smoked salmon and wasabi. Open Monday through Thursday 11:30am to 2:30pm and 4:30pm to 9:30pm, Friday and Saturday 11am to 3pm and 4:30pm to 10pm. Sunday hours are 12pm to 9pm.
The Seaside Restaurant
This family-owned restaurant and aqua farm has been open since 1947. The property sits on the edge of Loko Waka Pond—it’s a lovely place for a nature walk before dinner. In addition to sushi, the menu offers an assortment of appetizers, entrees and salads. We recommend the “Spicy Ahi Bomb”! The Seaside Restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday 4pm to 8pm. Reservations recommended due to limited seating. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
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