Creativity Helps Sushi Restaurant Remain “King”

Columns Foodie Fare

August 4, 2013

Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Rachel Breit

If anything makes Sushi King the true king of sushi, it’s the restaurant’s ability to continually reinvent itself and push the limits of its dishes.

Just recently, for example, the restaurant unveiled a new item, Kamikaze Roll ($18.50), which features jumbo red Alaskan king crab leg, cucumber, avocado, lettuce and tomago, and topped with fish egg.

Crab lovers are in for a treat, as the crab is both inside and on top of the roll.

“I custom order the crab from Washington,” owner and manager Shu-Lee Kondo explains. “This crab leg you will only find here. I wanted to do something special, and you can’t find this anywhere else.”

Another popular item is Karei Karaage ($14.50), which is a deep-fried flounder that is accented with spicy, grated radish and ponzu sauce.

In addition to the sushi selections, Sushi King also carries a variety of fresh sashimi. For sashimi that looks as good as it tastes, try the elegantly prepared Aji Sashimi ($20), or horse mackerel.

The creative chefs at Sushi King have also put their own twist on something as seemingly simple as the classic oyster shooter. Oyster Shooter with Uni and Ikura ($9.50) is the restaurant’s take on this dish, as it combines an oyster with sea urchin, salmon egg, grated yam, fish egg and pickled radish — all topped with a shrimp and ponzu sauce.

Chef Edgar San Juan says that his inspiration for the dish came from Sushi King customers.

“We hear requests from our regular customers,” he explains. “They ask us to make a certain dish. I say, ‘OK, what do you want inside?’ And we create it from there.”

Another aspect of what helps Sushi King retain its royal status is its hours. The eatery is open until 2 a.m. every night except Tuesday, ensuring a quality way to satisfy those late-night cravings.

On the Side

Before moving to the Islands and opening Sushi King in 1992, owner and manager Shu-Lee Kondo already had made a name for herself in the restaurant industry in San Francisco.

“I have always been in the restaurant business,” she says, adding that she owned a string of establishments in California.

And while Kondo says that Sushi King serves up traditional Japanese food, make no mistake — there is nothing static about its cuisine. Instead, the chefs are always coming up with new ideas and finding inspiration from everywhere, including its patrons.

“Just being in this kind of business for more than 20 years, you get ideas. And then you get a lot of ideas from the customers,” chef Edgar San Juan says.

“The customer is always a good teacher,” Kondo adds.

“We always like to change (the menu), because we have so many loyal customers and they are always looking for something new.”

Contact Christina O’Connor at diningout@staradvertiser.com

Sushi King

2700 S. King St.
Open daily for lunch: 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.
Dinner: Wednesday– Monday, 5:30 p.m.–2 a.m. Tuesdays, 5:30–10 p.m.

Honolulu, HI 96826

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Hawaii's Best