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On a Roll

Columns Order of the Day

October 22, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

In Hawaii, sushi restaurants can be found by the dozens. Sushi Ichiban, however, stands apart from the rest because of its fresh and high-quality fish, according to head sushi chef Marc Kusaka.

  • Sashimi A ($35)
  • Oxtail Ramen ($12.95)
  • Broiled Miso Butterfish Teishoku ($18.50)
  • Nigiri Deluxe ($23)
  • Sushi chef Marc Kusasa with the Nigiri Deluxe.
  • Spider Maki ($12)
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“When I came on (as head sushi chef in mid-March), I brought in more fresh fish and more fish from Japan,” explains Kusaka, who formerly worked for Iron Chef Morimoto at Morimoto Waikiki before taking over the sushi counter at Sushi Ichiban. “You get really good quality products and our prices are pretty cheap. The average price per customer is $30-$40. ”

Sushi Ichiban, located on Waialae Avenue, first opened last June, and has been attracting customers with its fresh fish and flavorful dishes.

“We try to bring in different fish that you won’t see at other places,” says Kusaka. “It (the fish selection) changes from time to time; it’s not something that will just stay on the menu throughout the whole year — as the seasons change, the fish will change as well.”

In addition to the fresh fish, Kusaka also emphasizes the uniqueness of the eatery’s sushi creations and entrees.

“Everything here features our own recipes — the sauces, the sushi, everything,” he says. “We also serve real wasabi here.”

Among the various makis ($8-$14) the restaurants offers, the Spider Maki ($12) is among the most popular. This customer favorite is made of soft shell crab, avocado, yama gobo, kai-ware and sesame seed, and is served with a spicy, unagi sauce.

“It’s (the Spider Maki) a nice big roll cut into five pieces,” Kusaka says. “Also popular is the Chirashi ($23), various cuts of sashimi over sushi rice. That one is served with miso soup.”

Other sushi maki choices include the Tempura Maki ($8) — composed of shrimp tempura, cucumber and avocado, served with a spicy sauce — and the Rainbow Maki ($14), a creative combination of crab, cucumber and avocado, topped with hamachi, salmon, maguro, shrimp and avocado.

Customers at Sushi Ichiban can enjoy lunch specials, which are served daily from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. All entrees include rice, miso soup, tsukemono and salad with house dressing.

“For lunch, the Maguro Tempura ($8.95) — ahi and vegetable tempura — and the Sashimi Set ($10.95) are popular here,” Kusaka says.

Other items on the lunch specials menu include Mochiko Garlic Chicken ($8.95), Broiled Salmon Misoyaki ($10.95), the Nigiri Set ($10.95) — comprising of favorites such as tamago, ebi, shiromi, sake, maguro, saba, tako and ikura — and Karaage Chicken ($8.95).

Aside from the lunch specials, the teishoku option (single entrees) also is popular for lunch and dinner. All entrees are offered with miso soup, rice, salad, a small sashimi appetizer and dessert. The teishoku sets come with two-choice ($20.50) and three-choice ($24.50) options.

“Our Broiled Miso Butterfish ($18.50) — cod with miso marinade — is really good,” Kusaka says.

Customers also can choose from an assortment of ramen, udon, donburi and curry dishes. The Oxtail Ramen ($12.95), a combination of oxtail, mushrooms and mixed vegetables, is one of the most popular ramens.

“I’ve heard lots of good comments about our Oxtail Ramen,” says Kusaka. “We’ve been serving that for about half a year.”

Sushi Ichiban provides its customers with a takeout menu, which differs from the dine in menu in one way — teishoku entrees for takeout do not come with miso soup or dessert. Customers prefer to dine in at the eatery, according to Kusaka, who notes that the restaurant is the most crowded on weekends.

As Sushi Ichiban features new fish and specials, Kusaka encourages locals to follow the popular eatery on Twitter.

“We just started an account on Twitter a few weeks ago,” says Kusaka. “Follow us at @sushiichibanhi for specials and featured dishes.”

Sushi Ichiban

  • Where
    • 3579 Waialae Avenue
    • Honolulu, HI 96816
  • Call
    • (808) 737-8820
  • Hours
    • Open daily
    • 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    • 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.