Welcome to the best Japanese restaurants in Honolulu awards show!
I’ve spent the last month eating at some of the best Japanese restaurants in the city, talking to chefs and locals, and trying out all the classic dishes like udon, sushi, tonkatsu, onigiri, and katsu. My boyfriend and I were lucky enough to have some close friends visiting from Japan who took us to some of the city’s most authentic and delicious Japanese restaurants.
Japanese food is some of the best in the world, and you don’t have to travel all the way to Japan to get a taste of it. Honolulu has some fantastic restaurants serving all the classic dishes and unique local twists on Japanese cuisine.
My goal with this article is to save you time and help you make the best choice for your Japanese food cravings in Honolulu.
After all the meals, conversations with the chefs and locals, and indulging in all the deliciousness, I’ve ranked these restaurants according to the authenticity, variety of dishes, service, and value.
These are the best of the best, so you can have an authentic and unforgettable Japanese dining experience in Honolulu no matter which one you choose.
Let’s get to the restaurants already!
Musubi Cafe Iyasume
If you’re craving Japanese food, it’s only fair to start with classics like musubi (that’s sushi/rice rolls with spam, in case you didn’t know.)
Musubi Cafe Iyasume has multiple locations in Hawaii serving meals for pick-up that are prepared fresh right before their opening.
You can have their variety of bento boxes with warm miso soup for a quick and hearty breakfast that the staff heats up nicely for you.
But it’s their musubi that takes the prize, with an endless variety of fillings, like creamy avocado, slippery eel, soft egg, spam, and fresh salmon. The musubi comes packed in soft rice, and it’s so delicious you’ll eat a ton! Pair it with the Salmon Roe and Salmon rice balls, which are delicious breakfast items.
Musubi Cafe was our favorite place to stop by on mornings before hiking for a quick breakfast pick-me-up, and they’ll become yours, too, after you try it.
- They usually have long lines, but it moves quickly, so you won’t have to wait long.
- They have a wide selection of lunch and dinner items as well.
- The musubi is pretty cheap for such good quality, priced at $2-4.
Address: 2427 Kuhio Ave 2nd Floor, Mitsuwa Market Place, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Ginza Bairin Tonkatsu & Yoshoku Bistro
90-year-old Ginza Bairin was the first to introduce tonkatsu to Hawaii nearly a decade ago, giving this Japanese street food an entree status. The Yoshoku side of the restaurant specializes in a fusion of Japanese and American favorites like steaks, seafood, and pasta, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Traditionally consisting of a deep, panko fried pork cutlet, Ginza introduced a variety to this meal, including chicken and shrimp.
Try the famous Kurobuta Pork Loin Katsu, that’s a house favorite. Their chicken katsu with curry rice is equally delicious and flavorful.
My boyfriend and I are fans of their seafood katsu that comes with two jumbo shrimp, white fish, salmon, and fried mixed mash potato. We also tried their Hamburger and Kurobuta steaks, which were cooked to the perfect temperature and incredibly juicy.
You can’t go wrong with the food at Ginza’s, and it’s one of our favorite Japanese restaurants in Honolulu for an authentic meal. Here’s why you’ll love it too:
- They have big portion sizes, so go with a crowd and taste a bit of everything.
- The interior is modeled on traditional Japanese decor and is very comfy.
- They’re usually crowded with waiting lines.
- The food costs nearly $30 per person.
Address: 255 Beach Walk Spc 1, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Marukame Udon Waikiki
Long lines on Kuhio Avenue fill the street all day outside this cafeteria-style restaurant that serves freshly made udon every day, from scratch. However, don’t let the crowds scare you into passing by since the lines move quickly, and people clear up a spot in the dining area pretty soon.
Marukame serves the best udon in Hawaii, made with thick wheat noodles in a fresh broth, topped with veggies, protein, or on its own.
Try their classic udon with a side of boiled egg or white rice. A crowd favorite is their Curry Nikutama udon with sweet beef, curry broth, and a soft-boiled egg, which is incredibly flavorful and fulfilling.
They also have great vegan udon prepared in a vegan broth and ground marinated soy. Pair your noodles with chicken, shrimp, and tamagoyaki tempura fried in a light batter that tastes delicious.
We loved the no-fuss approach of Marukame Udon to this Japanese favorite comfort dish, and you can’t miss trying it on your next trip to Honolulu.
- Their prices are very low at $9 for amazing udon.
- The huge portion sizes, combined with sides, makes for a hearty meal.
- They sell delicious bottled drinks from their brand, like bubblegum/ginger/oolong iced tea, so be sure to buy them and support local.
Address: 2310 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Good food deserves a great view, and Sansei offers just that from its location on the Marriott Resort overlooking Waikiki beach. They’re famous for seafood specials, especially sushi, prepared from fresh catch every day.
Enjoy the delicious food from their outdoor seating that opens to the beach at sunset.
You want to try the Dragonfly Roll, Caterpillar Roll, 69 Roll, and Spicy Hamachi Roll, which are incredibly flavorful and filled with fresh avocado, crab, and fluffy rice.
A crowd favorite is the Spider Roll, made from crispy tempura soft shell crab, cucumber, a sweet Thai chili sauce, and rich unagi glaze. They also serve delicious sides like Crispy Calamari, Lobster, Crab Ravioli, Panko-crusted Seared Ahi Sashimi, and Mango Crab Rolls.
Since Sansei is from the same group as d.k. Steakhouse, you can also order steaks from their menu, like the flavorful 22 oz prime in-bone rib-eye steak with a creamy lobster and shrimp mash.
The food at Sansei’s is in a league of its own when it comes to Japanese cuisine and is undoubtedly the best Japanese restaurant in Honolulu. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- Despite the upscale location, the food is reasonably priced at $30 per person for a seafood dinner.
- They’re open from 5.30 pm – 1 am on weekends, and till 10 pm on weekdays.
- They have happy hour from 5-6 pm with nearly 50% off on all dishes.
Address: 2552 Kalakaua Ave Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Tanaka of Tokyo Central
Voted The Best Japanese Restaurant in Hawaii, Tanaka of Tokyo Central provides a Japanese dining experience that’s both entertaining and delicious. This includes table-side teppan-yaki meals prepared to perfection by skilled chefs.
Plus, the staff is warm and welcoming, making you feel at home.
They have a variety of Japanese-style steaks and seafood on the dinner menu. You can choose from beef sirloin or rib-eye, Teriyaki chicken, and shrimp, which are all juicy and flavorful.
However, they’re famous for the premium set menu, where you can choose between the Wagyu set with an eight oz center-cut filet or the Daimoku set with lobster tail and scallops. Pair either with the garlic fried rice or sticky rice, and it’ll be the best Japanese food you’ve ever had in Hawaii!
In addition, the chefs are very entertaining and provide great company during the meal.
You’ll love the delicious food at Takuma of Tokyo Central, which has been operating for forty years in Hawaii for its excellent food and service.
- The premium set menu costs nearly $80, which is nearly the same as ordering from the a la carte.
- There’s Japanese green tea and vanilla ice cream served after each meal.
- All entrees are served with salad, teppanyaki vegetables, and rice, with miso soup at the end of the meal.
Address: 2250 Kalakaua Ave. 3rd Fl. Waikiki Shopping Plaza, 3rd Floor, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Mitch’s Fish Market & Sushi Bar
Mitch needs to be your go-to place for sushi in Honolulu. Stop by for a meal right after you land since they’re close to the airport and serve the most delicious sushi and sashimi. The location is in an industrial area, but the high-quality seafood makes up for it.
From their main menu, you want to try their Abalone, Yellowtail Hamachi Sashimi, and Tuna Maguro Sashimi, all prepared fresh with a sweet-tinted taste to them.
We got their Chef’s special, which is a minimum order for two people, including lobster, appetizers, assorted sashimi, grilled fish, and sushi rolls. Afterward, they serve a warm miso soup to end the meal (a Japanese tradition, we’re told).
What makes Mitch’s Fish Market authentic is their seafood, imported from Japan and used within a specific period to maintain freshness and quality.
We loved the laid-back atmosphere at Mitch’s and consider it one of the best Japanese restaurants in Honolulu.
- The prices vary for each dish, around $50-80 per person.
- The dining is very casual and laid-back.
- It’s a good place for larger groups as the portion sizes are huge.
Address: 524 Ohohia St, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Izakaya Torae Torae
Izakaya is the perfect place to visit if you want to try traditional and Japanese-fusion cuisine. With a traditional Tokyo-inspired interior, and a live kitchen to watch the action, Izakaya feels like eating a meal right from Japan’s streets.
However, they can get crowded, so try to call ahead and get a reservation.
They have small plates from which you can try everything on their menu. For sushi, you want to try the Ahi Tataki, Hamachi, and Snapper Carpaccio, which are crowd favorites and incredibly delicious.
Don’t miss their traditional dishes like the Vegetable and Shrimp Tempura, crispy and light, and the Signature Pork Belly Kakuni. From the fusion side, try the Truffle Edamame; that’s big enough to serve four people and really delicious.
Izakaya Torae Torae was a new find for us and became our favorite after one visit. You’ll agree with this after trying their food, as they’re one of the best Japanese restaurants in Honolulu.
- There’s plenty of parking in the lot outside.
- The prices are reasonable for the great quality food.
- Their guava ume sorbet is a must-have that’s sweet and tart.
Address: 1111 McCully St, Honolulu, Oahu, HI,
With two branches in Waikiki and Chinatown, Maguro Brothers is a local favorite for Japanese food. The two brothers who run this chain carefully prepare the food in front of customers with their impressive knife skills.
You’ll have to navigate the backstreets of Waikiki’s International market to find Maguro Brothers, but the amazing food awaiting is well worth it.
Their menu includes a variety of items like sushi, fresh poke bowls, delicious sashimi platters, grilled Hamachi, and donburi over rice.
We got here later in the day and couldn’t find a place to sit, so we had our food packed and ate in a nearby stall. The sashimi was so fresh and delicious that we went back for seconds!
You’ll love the authentic Japanese food at Maguro Brothers, and make it your go-to place for a quick bite.
- The chefs show their amazing knife skills while preparing the meals.
- They open from 5.40 pm every day till 8 pm.
- The indoor seating is only three tables, so it’s best to get takeaway.
Address: 1120 Maunakea St Maunakea Market Food Court #111, #112, Honolulu, Oahu, HI.
Wrapping Up: The Best Japanese Restaurant in Honolulu
Hawaii has some of the best quality Japanese food, prepared fresh daily from local and Japanese chefs. Some of the restaurants are decades old, like Tanaka of Tokyo Central, located in downtown Honolulu, and dedicated to maintaining the authenticity of their cuisine, offering traditional Japanese dishes at a reasonable price. Here, on King St, you can savor their amazing Japanese food, including their popular sushi pizza.
Palace Saimin, another culinary gem, takes great pride in their signature dishes like the volcano roll. The delicious harmony of seafood dishes, coupled with the freshest sushi, makes for a delicious meal.
You can also visit the Park Shore Waikiki Hotel. Despite the limited seating in their main dining room, their table service is impeccable, and their seafood menu, featuring dishes like baked scallops and fresh ahi, is highly recommended.
North Shore also boasts a variety of Japanese restaurants. One in particular, Banzai Sushi, offers a wide range of sushi, including the best sushi in town. Their popular Dragon Roll, served with a hint of spicy aioli, has been appreciated by the locals and tourists alike.
At Morimoto Asia, located in the hotel lobby, the world-renowned chef Masaharu Morimoto serves traditional Japanese food, including tsukemen ramen and a rich sashimi plate. He pairs his dishes with beverages from Suntory – a choice of Sake, Beer, or for a non-alcoholic option, a refreshing pineapple juice.
The dining options even extend to soba and omakase, paired with a variety of side dishes. And if you still have room, try the desserts – you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The use of quail eggs in some dishes adds a distinct flavor, while the freshest fresh fish from the sea ensures the high quality sushi remains unmatched.
Ala Moana, in Honolulu, prides itself on serving a wide range of cuisines in its restaurants, and Japanese cuisine has been a staple here for years. From comfort food like omurice and udon to fine dining staples like lobster and sashimi steaks, it’s a true culinary destination.
Where can I find top-rated Japanese food in Honolulu, HI?
If you’re searching for delicious Japanese dishes in Honolulu, HI, King St and Hotel St have some excellent options. You will find a range of traditional Japanese cuisine as well as innovative Japanese fusion at places like the Japanese Restaurant Aki. They offer fresh sushi with raw fish along with other authentic menu items like miso butterfish and assorted tempura.
Are there any recommended eateries to experience authentic Japanese meals in Honolulu?
Yes, indeed! From sushi restaurants offering the freshest sashimi and nigiri to establishments specializing in soba noodles or grilled skewers – the local Japanese dining scene is quite vibrant. For instance, on Ave Honolulu HI alone, you’ll come across a few popular joints known for their take on traditional cuisine, which includes delicious dishes emblematic of true Japanese culture.
What are some of the finest sushi places located in Honolulu?
Honolulu takes pride in providing some of the best sushi not only through high-end venues but also modest ones that prepare great food with deep respect for quality ingredients. Check `Honolulu sushi reviews’ online to guide your picks from various spots on King St Honolulu Hi alone – one could potentially already get spoilt by choice!
Last Updated on August 20, 2023 by Brigitte