I’ve enjoyed omakase in Tokyo, Hawaii, and New York City, arguably, three of the best places on Earth to enjoy sushi. Dining at Sushi Ginza Onodera ranks up there with my experience eating at the small sushi restaurants in Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market and at Daisuke Nakazawa’s (a former apprentice at Sukiyabashi Jiro) namesake restaurant, Sushi Nakazawa, in New York City’s West Village. Simply put, Sushi Ginza Onodera is the most authentic sushi experience in Hawaii. It’s almost as if you’re in Tokyo. Almost.
It’s been a while since I last dined at the trendy Stage Restaurant. When they first opened in 2007 at the Honolulu Design Center, Jon Matsubara was executive chef and George W. Bush was president of the United States. Seven years later, Chef Matsubara is now the man at Japengo and George W. Bush is painting somewhere in a barn in Texas. Former executive sous chef, Ron de Guzman, moved into the executive chef position and revamped the menu. The restaurant decor also received a facelift. Artwork of fanciful genetilia no longer dominate the walls. Now they’ve got Louis Vuitton lips.
I tend to plan trips around places to eat. I try to eat good when I travel by becoming immersed in the food culture of whatever city I’m in. Through the years, I’ve learned that it’s best to forego fast and easy as an excuse to eat when wandering through an unfamiliar city. Knowing how something tastes and what to expect from each bite should not be a pre-requisite for any meal that you eat when traveling. Instead, eat good by finding what the locals eat and then seeking it out. Eat good by trying something new and exciting, and maybe a little scary. Eat good by devouring something that your taste buds have never tasted. Eat good by finding adventure in the food that you eat.
I’m spoiled when it comes to the luxuries of fine sushi. It wasn’t always this way, though. A decade ago, the closest thing to adventurous that I would get in a sushi bar (and I use the term sushi bar loosely here to mean rotating belt-type establishments like Genki Sushi ) was ordering a crab mayo roll.
Last month, we celebrated Joel’s birthday by dining at my favorite sushi restaurant on the island, Sushi Sasabune. As per our birthday celebration tradition, the birthday boy got to choose, and he chose well. Of course, we did the omakase, there’s no better way to do Sasabune other than to sit at the sushi bar and wait in anticipation for whatever it is that the sushi chef will present next.