Dinner @ Sushi Sho

I’m a lover of all things food. I’ll try almost any ingredient or dish once to push my palate and expand my food horizons. As such I am a fan of many cuisines. However, as with most people, there are some foods I just like more than others and sushi would certainly be on the list of my favorite foods. So when I heard that Sushi Sho, a new high-end omakase restaurant, was opening in town helmed by a chef who supposedly (according to rumor) kicked out the Michelin inspectors from his Tokyo restaurant for not “knowing anything about sushi”… well I just had to go!

I often get asked what my favorite sushi restaurant is… and my response is always the same: At what price point?. I think that sushi is one of those foods where a “best” or “top” list needs to be price tiered. Luckily for those of us here in Hawaii there are a plethora of great sushi restaurants in the middle to mid-high price range – Izakaya Gaku, Sasabune, Murayama, etc. But until Onodera opened its doors there was a lack of what I would consider the “high-end” level of sushi with omakase menus.

Sushi Sho occupies and, spoiler alert, dominates the high-end sushi space in Honolulu right now; it beats out its only real competitor, Sushi Ginza Onodera, by a decent margin in my opinion. At $300/person (inclusive of tax and tip) it almost has to. Fortunately for us sushi lovers, Chef Nakazawa and his team deliver an experience worthy of the price point. There are only two seatings a night at the 10-seat sushi counter. We ate there this past Saturday and were told the restaurant is pretty much booked solid until March.

Chef Yasushi Zenda prepares grilled opah bellies

Chef Nakazawa’s style of sushi is known for its Edomae influences. What I appreciated very much of Sushi Sho was that while you did get a great selection of fish from Japan, there is also a deliberate focus to showcase local seafood. Not just showcase, but elevate. The omakase menu and selection of seafood changes each night depending on availability. You can expect anywhere from 20-30 bites depending on the night’s menu. The following meal was the menu for Saturday January 21st. I won’t break down each dish, but have a few notes on certain courses.

Shigoku oysters with yuzu, wine, and its own liquor
Kinmedai with mac nut sauce, salmon smoked in banana leaf, and local ahi with soy and a Maui onion mustard
Baby squid with rice and hearts of palm

Three excellent courses of varying flavors to awaken the palate and introduce you to the simplistic elegance of Chef Nakazawa’s sushi.

In place of the traditional sliced ginger is this side of pickled ginger and hearts of palm
Sayori with ginger

Surprisingly delicious considering sayori is usually a very mildly flavored fish.

Ono marinated in konbu and sprinkled with konbu on top
One of Chef Nakazawa’s signature dishes: Baby red snapper marinated in powered egg yolk and vinegar

Very old-fashioned Edomae preparation. There’s a lot going on in this bite, transforming a typically mild flavored red snapper into something special.

Baby white shrimp marinated in seaweed
Rare white salmon, only 1 in every 1000 salmon have this coloration
Sushi Sho-style “Lau Lau” with salmon, opah cheeks, asparagus, and citrus jelly

These two small bites were loaded with flavor and temperature contrasts. A playful and delicious take on a local favorite.

Akami (lean bigeye tuna) marinated in soy
Drunken lobster marinated in Shao Xing wine for 5 days
Chutoro, simply presented
Edamame soup made from local soybeans, bonito stock, and salt
Grilled opah belly with finger limes and wasabi

Not nearly as fatty as tuna belly, but when grilled contains a lot of the same smokey/fatty flavor.

Another Chef Nakazawa signature dish: Moi marinated in rice and wine for 2 weeks

Pungent and punchy in flavor. This bite felt like old Japan.

Pickled local tomato

How they got so much flavor into this one cherry tomato I will never know.

Botan ebi from Molokai, lightly grilled
Sushi Sho-style chawanmushi with abalone, uni, white and black caviar

A seafood-lovers chawanmushi, loaded with oceanic flavors with the soft texture of the egg custard.

Ankimo with a slice of 3-year pickled baby watermelon

The best ankimo I have ever had. Period. Zero fishiness and perfectly balanced with vinegar and sweet from the pickled watermelon. I could eat a whole plate of these.

Mini-hand roll of uni, white salmon, and seaweed
Chutoro, toro, pickles, maui onion, and sesame

About as close to “spicy tuna” as you’ll get at Sushi Sho. High quality fish melded with acidic and spicy flavors.

Grilled toro with daikon and ginger
Left: Taro potato egg cake, Right: Dashimaki made with clam stock
Ahi broth with scallions
Pineapple and coconut ice cream

——— End of the omakase menu ———

These courses above encompassed the omakase menu for the evening. At the of your meal, before you are offered dessert, the chefs will ask if you would like to eat any more. If so they will present you with some other seafood options that were not served during the omakase. I was fairly full, but was enjoying myself too much to say no to more!

Aged Buri (yellowtail), aged for 10 days
Grilled Santa Barbara uni

Can’t recall ever having grilled uni before. Usually I’m not the biggest fan of Santa Barbara uni, but Sushi Sho’s preparation elevated the natural sweetness which I enjoyed.

Saba from Kyushu, Japan

There you have it. Twenty-some courses later and I was sold. The chefs chatted with us after the meal was over (we were in the 2nd seating of the night) and were very grateful for our patronage. Based on their comments it seems they don’t get a lot of local customers, mostly visitors staying at the Ritz or elsewhere in Waikiki. Hopefully as time goes on and word spreads more locals will get to have this amazing experience.

So do I believe that Chef Nakazawa really kicked out Michelin inspectors from his Tokyo restaurant? Actually, I do. But no matter, he’s here in Honolulu now making Michelin-class sushi. Based on my experience Sushi Sho is worthy of at least 1-star, if not 2.

Sushi Sho
383 Kalaimoku Street
Honolulu, HI 96815
808.729.9717

 

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