Sushi for GenerationsFeatures Inside Feature
March 16, 2014
Story By: Kimberly Lehano | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
Sushi King, located on South King Street near University, has been the mainstay of sushi in the Islands since 1992. Owner and manager Shu-Lee Kondo credits customer loyalty as the main reason for the restaurant’s continued success over the past two decades. “Our regulars bring in their friends, who become regulars as well, we are so grateful for this,” says Kondo.
Sushi King’s executive chef Ed San Juan, who was raised in Japan, has had years of experience in the restaurant industry, and works tirelessly and passionately to bring his knowledge of Japan cuisine to the Sushi King menu. Kondo and her staff have worked together using customer feedback and requests as inspiration to offer new and different menu items. “I’m not afraid to try anything new, and customers are the ones who make suggestions. If enough customers request a certain item, we will definitely consider putting it on our menu,” states Kondo.
Both tourists and locals alike are return customers to the restaurant, and according to Kondo this is how Sushi King is able to maintain a generational status. “We see great-grandparents, grandparents, their kids, who later bring kids of their own. When college students return home, a visit to Sushi King is their first request straight from the airport.” The dedication of Kondo and her staff is evident, as Kondo is faithfully at the restaurant six days a week, and considers Sushi King her hobby. “My friends have hobbies such as golfing and such. Mine? This restaurant. I love it!”
She considers her staff family, as well as the regular patrons who walk through the doors.
“Most of my staff have been here for more than 10 years, and that makes the biggest difference for our customers — families come in and they are like old friends to us,” explains Kondo.
Fresh fish of the highest quality is delivered daily to Sushi King, as is evident not only on its expansive sushi menu, but also in daily specials. Continuing to dominate the list of local favorites are Salmon Katsu, Ahi Katsu, Vegetable and Shrimp Tempura, and the eatery’s famous Tonjiru, or miso soup with the works. Must-haves also include pupu-style dishes recently added to the menu. Pork and Shrimp Potstickers (five pieces for $5.95) are the perfect way to end a workday. Also new on the menu is Spicy Cod Roe (four pieces, $5.95), something offered exclusively at Sushi King.
“We wanted to try something (unique) that no one else offers,” says Kondo.
Just spicy enough, Spicy Cod Roe packs a unique and zesty flavor as well as texture. For those interested in more than sushi, Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus ($5.50) and Bacon-Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms ($5.50) are sure to satisfy those flavor-seeking appetites.
Also recently introduced is Sushi King’s Salmon Kama Misoyaki ($9.50, a la carte), which features broiled salmon collar that exudes a hint of miso sweetness. It is the perfect alternative for those who prefer something other than deep-fried fare. Other healthy alternatives include sushi with “light rice” available at the sushi bar, Tofu Wakame Soup, Veggie Tempura, Ahi Poke and Seafood Salad. Fresh Oysters are an unbeatable value for those who love seafood. Priced at $7.25, three oysters are garnished with momoichi (spicy daikon paste), and served chilled. Of course, if you’re crazy about seafood, you’ll definitely want to try Sushi King’s ever-popular Sashimi Omakase ($35.95), which includes the highest-grade assortment of hamachi, mirugai, maguro, uni, ika and shiromi.
One of the biggest compliments Kondo received was from visitors from Japan, who stated, “This is better than Japan!”
Make Sushi King your next go-to spot for sushi and Japanese cuisine. You’ll leave with a full belly and a smile on your face.
“As long as my customers are happy, my mission is accomplished,” says Kondo.
Live entertainment by some of Hawaii’s best local artists is presented on select Wednesdays from 8 to 11 p.m. Check Sushi King’s Facebook page for exact times and its lineup of artists.
2700 S. King St.
Open daily, Lunch: 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Dinner: Wednesday–Monday, 5:30 p.m.–1:30 a.m., Tuesdays, 5:30–10 p.m.