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Say Yes to YuZu

By Alana Folen Photos By Anthony Consillio
August 3, 2014

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Ask any legitimate restaurateur: they’ll tell you innovation is a critical component to ensure longevity in today’s ever-expanding, highly competitive restaurant industry. At Sushi YuZu Ko Olina, owners Isamu and Moco Kubota have attuned themselves to this mentality.

This West Side establishment is the sister restaurant of YuZu in Ala Moana Hotel. Having expanded its reach on a grander scale, Sushi YuZu opened last May, and capitalizes on its contemporary stylings of izakaya-style sushi within a relaxed indoor and outdoor patio setting. According to the owners, the restaurant delivers a vibrant, new dining concept featuring an affordable menu of fresh flavors: Japanese tastes re-visited.

Sushi YuZu Ko Olina appeals to a new generation of customers; while retaining the foundation of traditional Japanese cuisine, it’s also adopted a creative implementation of bold ingredients and culinary stylings.

“Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that is a versatile component in the majority of items on our menu. It’s also a natural vinegar and is high in vitamin C,” explains sous chef Zach Inouye.

And the casually chic restaurant is taking ingredients, such as yuzu, in new directions. While most restaurants utilize rice vinegar with refined sugar in its sushi rice, Sushi YuZu Ko Olina prepares its sushi with a special MSG-free concoction of yuzu vinegar and organic cane sugar, which provides a subtle taste yet enhances the overall product.

Inouye says only the best yuzu, with origins in Japan, is infused in the restaurant’s cuisine. Original drinks and desserts made with yuzu also are popular items on the menu.

“There are three different types of yuzu: yuzu kosho, a concentrated yuzu pepper paste; yuzu concentrate juice (used in sushi rice); and yuzu-it, watered-down yuzu pepper sauce, integrated in spicy ahi and crab mix,” says Inouye.

“Our happy hour menus are always evolving, and just this month, we’ve released a new Early Happy Hour menu. Currently, the Late Happy Hour menu remains the same,” adds executive chef Ikunari Yamamura.

Early Happy Hour deals are available daily from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., and patrons are encouraged to take advantage of Late Happy Hour specials Friday through Saturday, from 10 p.m. to closing.

Perfect for the pau hana crowd or time-starved individuals wanting to grab a quick bite, Early Happy Hour features $5 Asahi Draft Beer and $5 House Sake (hot or cold), as well as five-star cuisine at unbeatable prices. Sushi YuZu quickly has become a heavyweight with a choice of Spicy Salmon, Shrimp Tempura and Avocado Cucumber Hand Rolls for $5 each. Priced at $12.95, tempura-coated Popcorn Lobster and Organic Red Potatoes deep-fried with soy oil, and tossed with truffle oil and Hawaiian sea salt, settles all cravings. For the nigiri connoisseur, Sushi YuZu presents two pieces of nigiri for only $5. The restaurant obtains much of its seafood from Island waters and Japan, so the selection of ahi, hamachi, salmon, ika, ebi and hotate (scallop) is fresh. For a steal, order Ribeye Steak 10 Ounces ($18), a meaty morsel of steak served on a cast-iron skillet. The ribeye lays atop a bed of onions and is drizzled either with yuzu sauce or teriyaki sauce.

“We expect the ribeye to be one of our top-sellers during Early Happy Hour,” Yamamura states. “It’s 50 percent off the 10-ounce ribeye steak dinner price of $35.95. The steak is pre-cut and is delicious with our yuzu sauce, which is a blend of garlic, olive oil and yuzu juice.”

Yamamura and Inouye are optimistic that the revamped Early Happy Hour menu will result in an influx of local clients.

“In a lot of ways, we’re changing the game by redefining our cuisine in a healthier light. Moco is big on macrobiotics. She likes to keep saturated fats to a minimum and chooses locally sourced, organic, non-GMO products,” confirms Inouye.

Fuel yourself with a myriad of fresh flavors at Sushi YuZu Ko Olina, an elite sushi establishment promoting good health and generating new trends in Hawaii’s restaurant culture.

Sushi YuZu

Ko Olina
92-1047 Olani St., Kapolei
678-1155
Lunch: Daily, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Nightly, 4:30-10 p.m.
Early Happy Hour: Daily, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Late Happy Hour: Friday Saturday, 10 p.m.-close