Sushi Sasabune has been the only restaurant review on this blog for some time now. That’s about to change. We, at Exploration: Hawaii, eat out way too much to not offer our opinions about our many food adventures. What better restaurant to reignite our food reviews than the very popular Mario’s Sushi Bistro.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Morio’s. Many have referred to Morio’s as a cheap alternative to Sushi Sasabune. Word of mouth, and relatively cheap pricing has made Morio’s one of the hottest hole-in-the-walls on the island. Heck, hottest restaurant on the island. This, despite it being located in a old building that sits just next to a Jack In The Box. If it’s fancy that you’re looking for, then look elsewhere. Instead, patrons of Mario’s have come to admire the casual atmosphere, quality sushi, and friendly sushi chef.
In order to get a seat Morio’s, you’ll have to make reservations. Reservations for Morio’s are made months in advance. Four to five months in advance, to be exact. Fortunately, Michelle and I piggy backed on a friend’s reservation. This unexpected invitation to Morio’s was a pleasant surprise. Unlike others who wait months, our expectations only boiled for about a week.
The restaurant seats about twenty people. There are four tables that sit four persons, and a bar that sits about five. It’s a tight fit, kind of like being crammed into a can of sardines. The restaurant has two seating times, 6:30pm and 8:30pm. We had a 6:30pm slot reserved.
Like Sasabune, we opted for the omakase. This meant that we put our taste buds entirely in the hands of Chef Morio.
Here’s a list of dishes that came with our omakase:
- Hamachi Kama
- Sashimi Platter (Lobster, Ahi, Hamachi, Salmon)
- Asari Sakamushi (Sake Steamed Clams)
- Kompachi – Amberjack (2pc)
- Amaebi – Shrimp (2pc)
- Sazae – Turbo (2pc)
- Aji – Spanish Mackerel (2pc)
- Hotate – Scallop (2 pc)
- Lobster Soup
- Uni – Sea Urchin (2pc)
- Hamachi Belly – Yellowtail (2pc)
- Anago – Saltwater Eel (2pc)
- Shrimp Tempura Platter
The dishes, although delightful, lacked the whiz-bang factor that I had been expecting. The food was good, but not great. The one exception being the shrimp tempura platter. That, my friends, was cooked to perfection and was great. That was probably the lightest tempura that I’ve ever eaten. In my opinion, the shrimp tempura was the best dish of the evening.
At Sasabune, I was blown away by the quality and tastiness of the toro (fatty tuna). We didn’t get any toro with our omakase and this made me a little sad. The hamachi kama was enjoyable, but that leads to a major criticism that I had about Morio’s. Everything is shared. We ordered two omakase, however, everything came to the table in family style plates. We each should have had our own hamchi kama, but instead, we shared one. Same for the nigiri. Each nigiri came in pairs, which meant, one nigiri per person. At Sasabune, you get a proper serving of two nigiri per course per omakase. A little lame, but I guess small details like these are what make this place the poor man’s Sasabune.
The lobster soup is another one of those much talked about dishes. It was good and hearty, and large enough in portion size that we shared with our friends. Again, good, but not great. I prefer the rich lobster soup at Mitch’s Sushi instead.
Honestly, Michelle and I were both still hungry when the omakase officially ended. When asked if we wanted more, we said yes, almost synchronously. That’s when the uni, hamachi belly, anago, and shrimp tempura were served. This is in stark contrast to our outing at Sasabune, where we felt stuffed like fat teddy bears once the omakase had ended.
In my opinion, Sushi Sasabune has Morio’s beat in almost every way. The one advantage that Morio’s has over Sasabune is the laid back attitude and casual atmosphere. It’s not unusual for Chef Morio to interact with guest, especially if said guests offer up free booze (he likes that). That said, I’d visit Morio’s again and order specific items ala carte. The omakase is a deal at $75 per person (compared to $150 per person at Sushi Sasabune). However, the one dish that I’d come back for and am actually craving, is the shrimp tempura.
Foodies: Coty Gonzales and Michelle Sagucio
Food Rating: 4/5
Ambiance Rating: 4/5
Service Rating: 5/5
Morio’s Sushi Bistro
2443 Kuhio Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 741 – 5121