‘Yu-nique’ Sushi SensationsFeatures Order of the Day
March 15, 2015
Story By: Andy Beth Miller | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
Tucked away within Ala Moana Hotel, YuZu restaurant offers its customers a generous helping of impeccable taste — and not just from the items on its menu. The appealing aesthetics of yuzu are what truly make this establishment unique, from its delightful decor, right down to the delicious dishes it serves daily.
Step inside YuZu to find an eclectic enclave exuding a charming cross between a casual lounge feel and hipster chic vibe. Low-key lighting sets the stage for a shared meal among friends, and lining the walls are colorful, surf-inspired Heather brown prints providing that perfect balance of warmth and welcome.
Also balanced is the variety of options clientele have when choosing where they will enjoy their meal. For casual drinks and pupus? Sidle up to a stool and table at the YuZu bar. Opting for a quick lunch on the go, and hankering for the freshest sushi in town? See for yourself, as chefs create your culinary concoction right before your eyes at the onsite sushi bar complete with limited seating.
For those seeking a more casual chic experience, YuZu offers a duo of low slung, au natural wood tables paired with festive futons for your feasting pleasure, while its more formal dining room provides a perfect fit for any date night out.
Executive chef Ikunari Yamamura explains how YuZu’s good taste transfers over to its edible treasures, explaining that here, freshness and impeccable quality are king. “We don’t even cut the fish until people order each dish,” Yamamura explains. “We tell people to expect about a 20 minute wait when ordering, and that’s because nothing is prepared before — so it’s always the best, made fresh.”
And with that, Yamamura brings out four absolute feasts that assure diners will be more than rewarded for their patience. Available on the dinner menu only, these YuZu creations are almost too lovely to eat.
Pretty as a picture, Veggie Sushi (two pieces for $4.95) is a yummy YuZu concoction offering a vegetarian twist on traditional sushi. With three options to choose from (tomato, eggplant and/or lotus root), patrons can pick their pleasure from these deceptively animal-free offerings.
“We wanted to try something special for vegetarians — along the lines of nigiri-style,” says Yamamura. And apart from appearing so much like the “real” thing, Yamamura says, “The lotus root especially has an uncannily similar taste, consistency and texture to eel — and the tomato looks so much like ahi.”
Also vegetarian, Shoyu Ginger Soy Karaage ($7.95) seems so similar to chicken nuggets, that you simply will have to take the chef’s word that it is indeed poultry-free. Served with creamy Vegenaise, these bite-size bundles present the perfect balance of chew and crunch made from texturized bean curd, giving the original things a real run for their money.
Steak Poke ($9.95) presents generous cubes of steak poke paired with locally grown ogo, tomato, green onion, Tokyo negi and Hawaiian macadamia nuts seasoned with special house-made (and gluten free) sesame and tamari sauce.
Perhaps the piece de resistance, as it most resembles an actual work of art with its golden tower of stacked shrimp tails, Shrimp Tempura ($14.95) presents 10 pieces of batter-fried bliss, served with three kinds of dipping options (tamari sauce, YuZu salt and Vegenaise).
Ala Moana Hotel, Kona Tower
410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu
Monday – Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. (lunch)
Daily, 5 – 6 p.m. (happy hour) and 5 – 10 p.m. (dinner)