Sign up for news and special offers from Dining Out
Sushi Ichiban Stays at the Top
Pupu Picks

Sushi Ichiban Stays at the Top

Story By Steve Murray Photos By Nathalie Walker
December 25, 2011 - January 1, 2012

See more articles from

Eight years ago Sushi Ichiban chef Marc Kusaka escaped from a life of graphic design and website creation for the subtle creativity of sushi. He hasn’t looked back, and the ever-growing list of patrons of the Kaimuki eatery couldn’t be happier. Sushi Ichiban has seen consistent growth since it opened in June of last year. Much of that has to do with Kusaka’s homemade sauces and his handling of delicate ingredients.

  • Mozuku ($3)
  • Ika Mentai ($7.50)
  • Maguro Natto ($7.50)
  • Ikura Oroshi ($7.50)
  • Ankimo ($7.50)
Image of

The pupu menu includes 15 items, but it’s the natto dishes that are a specialty. The Maguro Natto ($7.50) is made with diced tuna, natto, kaiware, bonito flakes, green onion and nori, and Ika Natto ($7.50) is similar but made with sliced squid.

“A lot of the items on the pupu menu used to be specials, but they were so popular we put them on the daily menu,” says the Pearl City High School grad.

The Ikura Oroshi ($7.50) is another customer favorite, and is made with salmon roe and grated daikon. Kusaka gently washes the roe to remove excess salt that many places leave. “I like the cleaner, more natural flavor,” he says. The Mozuku ($3), which Kusaka describes as having a somen noodle-type consistency, is made from seaweed and sliced ginger in his freshly made citrus vinaigrette dressing. The Ankimo, another popular item, consists of monkfish liver with green onion, spicy grated daikon and ponzu.

Sushi Ichiban gets its fish daily from the United Fish Agency auction. The Japanese specialty fish are flown in twice a week, ensuring freshness for all menu items.

“Our challenge is to keep fresh product at all times. That’s why we don’t keep much fish in stock — so it will always stay fresh.”

Don’t let the fact that your dinner is being made by a former Web designer fool you, there are similarities. Sushi is about presenting something that looks simple but can take hours to prepare, much like the website that is simple to use but requires hours of code writing. Some of Kusaka’s seemingly simple sauces take 12 hours to make, but the only thing you may notice is how good it tastes. It is even open Christmas Day.

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.