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Sushi Cake

Sushi Cakes are whole savory cakes made from sushi rice layered with a variety of sashimi and everything from ikura to avocado, shiso leaves, and cucumbers. They are very popular in Hawaii, especially at potluck parties and family gatherings. People also love sushi cakes in place of a traditional birthday cake! Slice, eat, and enjoy ^_^

A colorful sushi cake, ready to eat.
Sushi cake, ready to eat!

What Is Sushi Cake?

Hello, Sushi Cake! Have you heard about sushi cakes? They started getting popular in Hawaii a few years ago…and then they really took off last year. At first I thought sushi cakes would be a fleeting trend, but it looks like sushi cakes are here to stay. And that is a great thing!

A sushi cake is a whole cake…made out of sushi! It’s not a bunch of sushi pieces all stacked together. But it has all the components of sushi, assembled into the form of cake.

I love sushi cake so much, and it seems like everyone else does as well. It is so fun to look at and even more onolicious to eat and enjoy. Sushi cake is playful and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but most importantly it is delicious! You’ll have everyone oohhing and ahhing if you show up to to a party with sushi cake.

A slice of sushi cake.
A slice of sushi cake.

Components of Sushi Cake

What exactly goes into a sushi cake?

Foundation
The foundation of a sushi cake is sushi rice. The rice is layered with popular sushi roll ingredients like spicy tuna, avocado, and crab salad. Think one layer sushi rice, topped with one layer of spicy tuna, topped with another layer of sushi rice, layer of avocado and furikake, layer of sushi rice, layer of crab salad, etc.

Sashimi Frosting
The top layer of sushi cakes are “frosted” with a colorful arrangement of fresh sashimi (including ahi tuna, hamachi, and salmon). Some sashimi pieces are arranged into a pretty rose configuration. Others are topped with black sesame seeds and thinly sliced shiso leaves.

And don’t forget the ikura (cured salmon roe). I love the bright and shiny pops of color ikura adds. Plus, ikura is always just so ono ^_^

Other ingredients also include cucumber “cups” to hold the ikura, edible flowers, and whole and sliced shiso leaves to add color and serve as a “plate” for the sashimi.

Chirashi Layer
Between the top sushi rice layer and the “frosting” layer is what I call the chirashi layer. This layer includes all the different types of sashimi chopped up and gently pressed over the top layer of sushi rice.

Final Touches
You might also notice the sides of cakes are often finished with a sprinkle of white sesame seeds. It’s all in the little touches ^_^

Sauces and Sides
Sushi cakes often come with a small container of sauces and sides including bubu arare (for crunch!), wasabi and shoyu/soy sauce (to dip the sashimi pieces), unagi sauce (to drizzle on individual cake slides), and pickled ginger slices.

Lucky Bonus / Mini Cake
I don’t know if all sushi cake places do this, but if you look at the center of the frosting layer you can see a generous portion of ikura nestled into a “cup” of shiso leaves and hamachi slices. Underneath that is actually a small layer of sushi rice. It is a whole miniature sushi cake! You can lift that up as one piece and plate it nicely. Give that to the lucky birthday person ^_^

Why Are Sushi Cakes Popular in Hawaii?

Good question. Two main reasons:

  • We love sushi in Hawaii. Like REALLY love sushi from fancy sushi to casual sushi. Why do we love sushi? Because we are lucky to get wonderful and fresh fish in Hawaii! Also we love rice.
  • Lots of family gatherings and potlucks. Hawaii is very family/community oriented. As a result, big and frequent family dinners and gathering are common. A sushi cake only works if you have a people to share it with (the cake must be enjoyed the day it’s made, it will not keep overnight).

Make sure to try sushi cake next time you are in Hawaii!

A colorful sushi cake, ready to eat.
Picking up the sushi cake from Aloha Cones.

How To Eat Sushi Cake

Here are the steps:

  1. Get an extra plate. Remove all the components of the top “frosting layer” onto that extra plate. I try to remove the components carefully and rearrange them in the same style on the plate.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the sushi cake into generous slices. We cut this specific cake into 10 pieces. Plate a slice for everyone. I put the slices sideways so that people can really see all the different layers inside the cake.
  3. Give everyone some of the sashimi from the “frosting layer.” In the photo above, you can see that slice got one of the ahi roses and some ikura. Best to make sure that all slices get a bit of all the variety of sashimi.
  4. Put all the sides/sauces (bubu arare, wasabi and shoyu/soy sauce, unagi sauce, and pickled ginger) in the middle of the table and let everyone serve themselves. You can sprinkle bubu arare on top for crunch. Drizzle the unagi sauce over the cake slice. Dab a little wasabi on the side of your plate, and drip the sashimi into the shoyu/soy sauce.

It’s straightforward, you just want to make sure to remove the frosting layer before cutting the cake.

Sushi Cake In Hawaii

Here are a few great places to order sushi cake in Hawaii:

Make sure to order at least a week in advance. Many of these places book up especially during graduation season and all the holidays. We ordered this cake two weeks in advance. I’ve heard of people having to order one month in advance during busy times.

A plate of chow fun and a beautiful sushi cake.
Pair sushi cake with a hot dish like chow funn from Lam’s Kitchen. The sauces and sides to accompany the sushi cake is pictured on the top left.

FAQ

How much do sushi cakes cost?

Prices vary depending on who you order from, the size of the cake, and any specific ingredients you might want included in the cake. I’ve seen prices in the range of $100-200 so it can vary. The cake pictured in this post was $140 from Aloha Cones.

How long can you keep a sushi cake?

You have to eat it the day it’s made. Sushi cakes will not keep overnight (the rice will get hard in the fridge and you don’t want to eat day old sashimi).

Ideally you would pick it up from the shop and eat it within the next hour or two. Or you can put it in the fridge for no more than a few hours (eg. if you pick it up during the day but want to serve it for dinner), and then remove the cake from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.

Sushi cake or sashimi cake?

I’ve heard people call this “sashimi cake” before, but “sushi cake” is the correct name.

Can a sushi cake be a whole meal?

Yes! But we also like to eat a hot dish along with the sushi cake. So in this case we got beef chow funn from Lam’s Kitchen to accompany our sushi cake. It was a super onolicious pairing ^_^

A colorful sushi cake, ready to eat.
Sushi cake, ready to slice and eat.

If You Love Sushi Cake…

Check out other popular Onolicious Hawaii posts related to sushi and all things good:

Enjoy, enjoy! ^_^

Alan

Friday 22nd of October 2021

Wow, I had never heard of sushi cake before. Such a creative and beautiful creation. I think I would love eating one of those too. Maybe the next time I am back in HNL, I will pick one up and take it as my contribution to our normal potluck dinner with my old time friends. Thanks for the information on this new and wonderful creation.

Kathy

Friday 22nd of October 2021

Hi Alan! Hope all is well! It's such a neat idea yeah?? I'm still in awe of how good it looks AND tastes. Hope your potluck friends love it :) - Kathy