At home, we are always too busy to explore new culinary experiences. We generally do a lot of ordering in and eating at home or on the run.
That’s why after my boyfriend surprised me with a trip to Waikiki for our anniversary, I knew I wanted some delicious dining and many date nights. Waikiki is famous for its beaches, hiking trails, and fresh produce. I was excited to experiment with fresh fish (because both of us are big sushi fans!)
So I researched and visited the best of what Waikiki had to offer. The city did not disappoint! We found some freshest fish, beautifully presented, and perfectly seasoned sushi.
I picked out some wonderful choices for date nights, fine dining, and traditional sushi, all with the city’s best ingredients and chefs. These are the top sushi places to visit based on fish quality, preparation, presentation, service, and overall experience!
#1. Sushi Sho – The Best Omakase Waikiki Restaurant
If you have the means and are looking for a refined world-class sushi experience, this is the best in Hawaii. Sushi Sho offers only 2 dinner servings each day and doesn’t seat more than 16 people. Getting reservations took a lot of work! The menu is only Omakase (chef’s choice) so get ready to experiment and learn.
The restaurant is part of the Ritz-Carlton, but it is designed as an intimate and private corner made from warm wood. The space is beautiful, and the chef is renowned. All the food was made in traditional style, with plenty of insight into the ingredients, preparation, and the right ways to taste.
Our dinner consisted of more than 20 servings (I lost count). The chef plans every order carefully to give you the ultimate dining experience. The fish is soft, fresh, and extremely well prepared. We tried some brand-new aged/fermented fish combinations for the first time and Monkfish liver. The dinner had a great sense of intimacy. The desserts were amazing as well.
This food experience was the most exciting of our trip! The pairing of sake and tea was very complimentary. It’s not difficult to see why this was my number one pick!
Note: This is a high-end and expensive dinner, starting at a minimum of $300 per person. Children under 13 cannot attend. There are many other options and drinks, so prepare to pay more. Reservations are taken by phone and at a certain time of the day.
It is a must-visit place when in Waikiki because:
- You get a world-renowned chef experience in an intimate setting.
- An excellent way to learn and experiment with Japanese sushi and tradition.
- This is a memorable date night and couple experience.
#2. Restaurant Suntory – Best Traditional Cuisine
This elegant, clean-cut restaurant is located in the Royal Hawaiian Center (on the 3rd floor). They offer high-end dining, including Omakase, but there are also great menu options from sushi to Teppanyaki (live preparation while seated in front of an iron grill).
We made lunch reservations. I was especially interested in their rich multi-course lunch menu. I ordered the sashimi and grilled Miso black Cod, with some wonderful salad and rice bowl. My boyfriend had the sushi set, which included miso soup (he had a tough choice between this and the sashimi and grilled eel option).
The food here is traditionally prepared, simple, without overwhelming seasoning or sauces. This is a Japanese-style restaurant without mayo. We loved it!
The menu is large, with many delicious options, especially for sashimi. The portions are generous. Beef and chicken are also available for those who do not enjoy fish.
Note: do not miss dessert here! I recommend the Pineapple Almond Tofu or Cheesecake with Sake Lee.
Unlike my first choice, this is still a top-quality restaurant but at a much lower price.
You must visit this restaurant because:
- There are Omakase and regular menu options.
- The menu is huge, with many delicious lunch and dinner options.
- This is a family-friendly restaurant.
- The food is clean, fresh, and traditionally prepared.
- There are no misses on this menu (from what we tried!)
#3. Doraku Sushi Waikiki – Best Date Night Dinner
The first thing I loved about this restaurant was the large outside eating area surrounded by palm trees. The inside was also very modern, offering booths, round tables, and a huge wooden bar. We had a beautiful corner spot on the terrace for our date night. The restaurant is located in the Royal Hawaiian Center, which offers over 30 restaurant options. But don’t worry – the atmosphere here is super intimate.
We made our dinner reservation online and didn’t wait to be seated. Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable about the food they served. They have a large drink menu with craft cocktails and beers. I experimented with an Aoki Tai while waiting for our food.
Their deluxe Maki rolls are delicious and full of exotic flavor. I would recommend the God of Fire roll topped with tuna sashimi. The emperor’s role is also amazing with unagi sauce (for those not wanting rice).
If you have a picky eater with you, they offer free-range chicken and some delicious beef options. Brownie Tempura with ice cream and fruit dessert is a must-try!
Here’s why you should visit this restaurant:
- The sushi is high quality and creative, with many different options.
- The menu is varied and has something for everyone (including kids).
- There is seating inside and out, with lots of privacy.
- The bar is fun, and they have many craft beer options.
Waikiki has some of the most delicious sushi I have tasted (and I love sushi!) No wonder when they have some renowned master chefs working here!
We found elegant high dining at the Sushi Sho and a relaxing date night atmosphere at Doraku Sushi. All in all – do not miss this experience.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What is the most authentic sushi?
The most authentic and traditional sushi is made of Tuna or Salmon. Like the Tuna and Scallion Roll known as Negitoro Maki. Authentic sushi is usually made with fewer ingredients, focusing mainly on the fish.
What is the healthiest sushi roll?
Sushi is generally healthy. It is low in calories and high in omega-3 acids and minerals. The healthiest sushi rolls are made with lean fish like tuna and salmon, without sauces. Also, you can use brown rice instead of white. The salmon avocado roll can be considered one of the healthiest.
How is American sushi different from Japanese sushi?
Japanese traditional sushi and American sushi differ in several ways. Traditional Japanese food such as Maki is wrapped in nori (seaweed), and the rice and fish are inside. This was changed for the American customer, and the rice is wrapped outside the nori.
Also, the traditional rolls are simpler in their ingredients and don’t use much sauce. The American sushi version is usually more colorful, has more toppings, and includes several sauces.
Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Brigitte