Casual sushi is the kind of good and everyday affordable sushi that we love to eat in Hawaii! From nigiri to rolls and local fish, you don't need to save sushi only for special occasions when you're here. Here's where we like to go ^_^
What Is Casual Sushi
Do you know about casual sushi?
One of the things I miss most when I'm not in Hawaii is the abundance of good and affordable sushi.
In Hawaii, great sushi does not have to be expensive.
Sushi is not a big deal or something you must book reservations far in advance for because you can find good sushi at all price ranges in Hawaii. In NYC and SF, we often come across scary cheap sushi or super fancy sushi. The in-between is rare.
But this in-between (along with really nice sushi) is what Hawaii excels at. Why? I think for a couple of reasons:
- Fish! We have a lot of good fish in Hawaii and a lot of local fish.
- Rice! We're used to having rice with almost every meal in Hawaii.
Put the two together, and that means we're used to having lots of fish and rice for meals.
When a friend suggests sushi for lunch/dinner NYC, it meant that we are going to splurge. But when someone suggests sushi for lunch/dinner in Hawaii, it can mean a splurge, but it more often means a great $10-$20 sushi set that we take to the beach or someone's house to eat. Or sometimes we even eat it in the car.
What To Know
Here are a few important things to know about casual sushi:
Most of them are takeout spots (with the exception of Genki Sushi which is a full service sushi conveyor belt restaurant). A few might have a few tables and chairs outside for seating.
What type of quality sushi to expect with casual sushi? It's not $300 omakase quality and it's not the $5 supermarket quality either. It's good, everyday, eat at home, enjoy at the beach sushi. It's the kind of sushi you can happily eat frequently, and your wallet, stomach, and heart are all happy.
If you plan to order a sushi platter (details in the section below), make sure to call and place your order at least a few hours in advance. Many casual sushi spots are tiny and need a bit more time to prepare a platter.
One of the many things that make me really happy is a great sushi platter! Sushi platters are very popular in Hawaii and they can be purchased at all these casual sushi spots.
What is a sushi platter? It's literally a big platter of sushi! Could there be anything more joyous ^_^
Sushi platters are especially popular here because:
- Families - Hawaii is very family oriented and we are often eating in groups. You got to have a big sushi platter so that there's enough for everyone. On nights when no one wants to cook, we often just get sushi platter and place it in the middle of the dining table. Everyone is happy.
- Potlucks and Gatherings - Potlucks and family/friends get togethers happen all the time, and at least one person will bring the sushi platter.
Not only are sushi platters so beautiful to look at, they are fun to eat.
Where To Eat Casual Sushi In Hawaii
Casual sushi spots can be found on all islands in the most unassuming places. These are the casual sushi spots we visit most often in Honolulu:
My go-to casual sushi spot! I end up here at least once a week for takeout. I like everything from the local ahi nigiri set, salmon set, and the seared nigiri combo, and the Big Island roll. Also a great spot for sushi platters!
They have 2 locations. One on Monsarrat (this one is closer to Waikiki and a lot of other walkable places). And another location at Market City Shopping Center.
We ate here ALL the time growing up. My standard order as a kid was 3 tuna hand rolls. This was my go to lunch for school field trips. Prices have gone up but I remember them being $1.50 a roll. The rolls are made to order and packaged so that the nori (seaweed) doesn't touch the rice until after you open it. That way the nori remains crisp up until you're ready to eat.
Kozo has three locations - I usually visit the Kahala Mall location because you can also run errands at the mall before/after eating.
Ahi and Vegetable
Easy, tasty, and convenient. I usually get one of the bento specials that have a mix of nigiri and rolls. In addition to sushi, they are popular for chirashi bowls. They have several locations, including one at Ala Moana Center.
Genki is a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, very fun for groups and kids love it. The Ala Moana Center location always has a line out the door. Eat as much as you want, and then they tally up your empty plates for the bill.
Fish & Rice
This is a newer spot and one of the nicer quality ones as far as casual sushi goes. They are one of the food vendors located inside Palama Market (an excellent Korean supermarket). I love to get the Nigiri Set B, a beautiful 8-piece sushi set that has tuna, salmon, hamachi, shrimp, uni, ikura, eel, and egg...all the good stuff. They also make great rolls and excellent sushi platters!
I'll keep adding to this list so that it is always current. Make sure to try "casual sushi" when you are in Hawaii.
The sushi culture in Hawaii is so very special and something I think that everyone should get to experience. ^_^