Let’s Rock ‘n’ Sushi Roll!

Columns Ono, You Know

November 4, 2013

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Leah Friel

Happy Sunday, Ono aficionados! I know you all will join me in my excitement over this week’s foodie find — specialty sushi rolls. After all, as many locals would agree, sushi is solidified in our diets from an early age here in the Islands. Plus, we’re so spoiled with an abundance of some of the best fresh fish in the world that it’s easy to embrace this Japanese style of cuisine.

Personally, my love for mak-izushi, or “rolled sushi,” developed early on. Like most kids, the thought of eating nigiri prepared with a piece of raw fish on top of rice was not so appetizing to my 10-year-old self. Instead, I yearned for a more exciting mix of sauces, vegetables and rice to dress up that fish and transform it into an edible roll of joy.

Even today, while my palate has graduated to loving nigiri-style sushi (bring on the uni and toro!), I’ll still turn to the approachable, delicious flavors of specialty rolls any day of the week. And, considering how their popularity has spread since varieties such as the California roll first appeared in Los Angeles in the 1960s, it’s clear there’s no limit to the thrilling world of makizushi.

At the following Ono, You Know locales, a diverse range of specialty rolls abounds, complete with authentic preparations as well as innovative interpretations.

Kozo Sushi

For decades, Kozo Sushi has delighted diners with its fresh menu of Japanese favorites presented conveniently, affordably and deliciously — every time. The franchise often provided the dinner of choice for my family when we needed something on the go, so needless to say, I couldn’t wait to dive into the sushi rolls I grew up with.

Patrons will find a wide selection of lovable eats on the menu, and there’s no doubt that much of Kozo’s appeal stems from its wide range of specialty rolls.

“In order to create different types of rolls, sushi makers at Kozo Sushi are often … mixing different ingredients and sauces, only to discover a new creation such as a Dragon Maki ($7.32),” says Mari-cel Cadiz of the Kozo Sushi Hawaii Office.

Dragon Maki is one of the eatery’s best, consisting of eight shrimp tempura pieces surrounded by fresh lettuce seasoned with sesame seeds and sweet teriyaki sauce. On top of the roll, ahi, masago and green onion add silky layers of flavor to the dish.

“Lastly, to give the Dragon Maki a little thrill, it’s drizzled with teriyaki and spicy sauce to offer a perfect mixture of sweet and spicy,” explains Cadiz.

While I may be partial to this treat because I was born in the year of the dragon, it’s really the Dragon Maki’s explosive flavors that make it everything I could want in a sushi roll and more.

Kozo Sushi 2334 S. King St.
951-5696 (and various locations)

Sushi YuZu

For my next bite, I opted to stray away from the norm and go for something creative at Sushi YuZu. The new restaurant at Ko Olina offers Japanese cuisine presented in a contemporary, food-forward fashion.

Part of Sushi YuZu’s culinary approach is presenting fresh, healthy menu items enhanced with a dab of excitement. Enter Fresh Vegetable Roll ($12.95), a prime example of the eatery’s unique take on sushi.

Packed with cucumber, avocado, tomato and lettuce all rolled in a soy sheet, Fresh Vegetable Roll exudes energy with each colorful circle. According to food coordinator Moco Kubota, Sushi YuZu came up with this spry creation to provide its many vegetarian and vegan customers with delectable sushi options.

“It is very fresh and interesting,” says Kubota. “We offer Vegenaise, which is dairy-free, and it is almost like eating salad, but it is sushi.”

In addition to using organic, locally grown vegetables as much as possible, the establishment prepares its own sushi rice, giving this dish a signature touch.

“We use YuZu vinegar and organic cane sugar for the sushi rice, so it is very different from other sushi restaurants,” says Kubota.

Patrons may order the dish with or without rice, and even a full-blown carnivore like myself can truly appreciate the satisfying mix of fresh vegetables found in this specialty roll, as it lends revitalization to anyone who eats it.

Sushi YuZu 92-1047 Olani St. Suite 1-101

Kobe Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

Kobe Steakhouse & Sushi Bar may be known for its fun table-side teppanyaki dining, but the legendary Japanese restaurant also is an excellent place to sit down for a traditional sushi roll.

Complete with an expansive sushi bar where the ever-so-talented chefs Eiji-San and Ha-San can be found crafting heavenly bites on a daily basis, Kobe serves up an authentic version of one of my all-time favorites: the Spider Roll ($13).

Presented as an inside out roll, soft morsels of sesame-seed spotted rice im mediately hit your tongue with each bite, contrasting wonderfully with the crunchy texture of breaded soft shell crab in the interior. A smooth touch of avocado rounds out this simple yet perfectly savory specialty roll.

“The Spider Roll is a very delicate combination of crunchiness from the crab combined with a creaminess from the avocado,” describes general manager Roy Nakamura. And, like all of Kobe’s sushi bar items, it may be enjoyed in the teppanyaki dining room as well.

When it comes down to it, regardless of the flavors you’re in the mood for, there’s a sushi roll out there to satisfy your craving. And take it from me, it doesn’t get any better than these three places to start finding the specialty roll most special to you.

Kobe Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 1841 Ala Moana Blvd.

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