Catching creative sushi in Hawaii

For a sushi lover, Hawaii is like sticking a gambling addict in a Las Vegas casino.

Sansei Seafood Restaurant Sushi Bar Hawaii
Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll: Sashimi grade Hawaiian ahi, argula and spinach wrapped into a sushi roll, panko-crusted, flash-fried and served with Sansei's mild soy wasabi butter sauce. Decadent!
In Review

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars - 'Sweet Stuff'
Waikoloa Beach Resort, Hawaii
www.sanseihawaii.com
Review by
Sansei Seafood Restaurant Sushi Bar Hawaii
Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll: Sashimi grade Hawaiian ahi, argula and spinach wrapped into a sushi roll, panko-crusted, flash-fried and served with Sansei's mild soy wasabi butter sauce. Decadent!

For a sushi lover, Hawaii is like sticking a gambling addict in a Las Vegas casino. With ocean all around, if I was a stronger swimmer, I probably would have jumped into the waters to catch some ahi between my teeth. Alas my physical reality cannot act upon the visceral nature of my fantasy.

Instead, I must do what all sushi lovers who visit the Hawaiian islands must do. Chase sushi at the many Japanese restaurants dotting the coast lines on each land mound.

It was the sound of the descriptions on the paper menu plastered in front of Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar at Waikoloa Beach Resort, Hawaii that had me salivating even before they opened for dinner.

I had no intention of having sushi that evening after the previous night of visiting two sushi restaurants to satiate my appetite not only for sushi, but divine sushi. Yet, the descriptions of the numerous creatively concocted rolls by chef D.K. caused me to have a change of heart and mind.

This is where I must note a disclaimer. When it comes to sushi, there are the purists who love their raw fish unadulterated with a tiny amount of soy sauce and a strong preference for freshly grated wasabi. Then there are those that love sushi rolled tightly bound with exotic ingredients, textures and sauces eager to burst into a fireworks of flavor in one’s mouth.

Sansei's Mango Crab Salad Roll
Sansei's Mango Crab Salad Roll: Sansei's Asian crab salad, ripe mango, Kula greens and crunchy peanuts wrapped in a mamenori handroll and served with sweet Thai chili vinaigrette.

I am a sushi lush. As long as the fish is supremely fresh I enjoy both styles. This does not mean I am not picky. Hardly. If sushi is in a roll, then the chef that conceived it must have a good understanding of flavors, textures and more importantly balance. The other ingredients in a roll should enhance the enjoyment of the raw fish, not hide it. If it is a pure piece of sashimi then how is it sliced in relation to the grain of the fish flesh? If it is a pure piece of nigiri then what is the balance of fish to rice and how is the texture of the rice?

At Sansei, I recommend you focus on their rolls and nouveau sushi dishes. Do not dwell on the traditional sushi plates for two reasons. Firstly, it is not their specialty as it obvious from the amount of space the specialty rolls take up on the menu. Secondly, if you order at least one sushi roll off the menu, the flavors will dull your taste buds for the delicate characteristics of traditional nigiri and sashimi.

Sashimi Trio
Sashimi Trio: Hawaiian ahi, yellowtail, and fresh salmon sashimi.

Of the rolls I tasted, my favorite is the Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll. It is absolutely sinful in the soy wasabi butter sauce. The Sansei’s Mango Crab Salad Roll was refreshing, but nothing to write home to mom about. The Cajun Seared White Tuna Sashimi had wonderful textures and intense flavors. It was delicious, however, I felt the spices in the sauce were too overpowering.

One of the selections I really wanted to try but couldn’t because they didn’t have the raw fish in stock was the Torched Kona Kampachi which is described as, “Kona Kampachi Sashimi stuffed with sweet Maui Onion, Shiso and Tsukudani Yuzu Aioli, rolled and drizzled with Chili Pepper Tosazu”. Sound delicious? I thought so.

Unfortunately the waiter explained that the local place they source the fish from is trying to get its credentials to export world-wide. In order to do this, the farm must cease operations as it goes through rigorous inspections and licensing requirements.

Perhaps it is a reason to return.

Fresh Hawaiian Ahi Capaccio
Cajun Seared White Tuna Sashimi with shaved Maui Onion, Red Jalapeno and Yukke sauce (for a little kick!)

In a sushi tasting of this kind one thing that I didn’t do which I wished I did is to sequence the plates of sushi from the most delicate of flavors to the boldest. I would have had the sashimi first, mango roll next, then the panko-crusted roll and finally the Cajun tuna last. Moving between each in parallel satisfied my need for variety but also desensitized my taste buds to the more delicate dishes.

D.K.'s Sushi Chronicles from Hawaii. Starting with the freshest fish right off the coast of the Hawaiian islands is how I am sure many of the stories begin.
Front of Sansei restaurant at Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Big Island.

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Queens Market Place, Waikoloa Beach Resort
201 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Suite 801
Waikoloa, HI
96738

Reservations: 1-808-886-6286

Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.
Share with your friends










Submit
Previous articleMango Madness Hawaii!
Next articleGoogle Street View causing ripples
Loni Stark
Loni Stark is a self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker, and yet is also passionate about technology’s impact on business and creativity. She's the host of our Stark Insider video features. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite. Loni's story...
  • I love the ever changing sushi culture here. Honolulu’s Japanese restaurants offer such a diverse sushi menu. It’s a nice change from the norm from time to time.