CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hana Sushi offers table or sushi bar seating in the Kapolei Shopping Center with a diverse selection of sushi and cooked specialties.
Hana Sushi offers sweet, large variety
You don't see many Japanese restaurants on the Leeward side of Oahu as ambitious as Hana Sushi, where the menu numbers 275 items, a figure more frequently associated with Chinese restaurants that can do so by offering variations on a few basic meat and vegetable selections.
Kapolei Shopping Center, 590 Farrington Highway / 674-9777
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 100 p.m. daily
Cost: From about $40 for two
Running a full-service Japanese restaurant is a more costly proposition because of the commitment to fresh seafood that goes into putting sushi and sashimi on the table. The smaller sushi bar can count on moving fish, but running a full-service restaurant, with distractions of steak, tempura, udon and katsu don, makes it harder to predict what customers will order.
Nevertheless, Hana Sushi has stepped up to bring many Japanese restaurant favorites to diners in Kapolei in an upscale setting, even if at prices that can limit visits to special occasions. Or, on second thought, two diners opting for conservative choices can get away with spending about $30 to $40.
It tends to get pricey because the vast menu tempts you to order many little things that add up fast.
It's most affordable when opting for a couple of maki rolls, with five to eight smallish pieces per order. There's more rice than fish with these rolls. Spicy tuna ($6.95) for example, is offered in a little mound on top of the maki, rather than rolled within it. Rainbow ($14.95) and Dragon ($10.95) rolls are represented, and I detected the influence of Nobu in the Tiger's Eye ($9.95) maki of salmon, cream cheese and jalapeño, which actually turned out to be slices of green and red bell pepper.
I got the feeling that some do not like it hot here, as many dishes that would be spicy in town run sweet here. It's something I can't criticize because restaurants do have to adapt to fit local tastes or perish.
Basically, if you see a sauce here, it's likely to be sugary, whether it's coating the salmon "Dynamite" with avocado ($14.95) or the bay scallop sauce that tops the Hollywood maki of salmon and avocado. I prefer the unadulterated nigiri sushi, where two pieces of hamachi run $6.25, maguro is $5.50, freshwater eel is $5.25 and ama ebi is $8.95.
NADINE KAM / NKAM@STARBULLETIN.COM
Clockwise from lower right are dishes of shrimp tempura, baked Hollywood roll and garlic oysters.
ITS EASY to make a meal of appetizers here, starting simply with age tofu ($5.95), edamame ($4.25) or chawan mushi ($4.95), then graduating to one piece of soft-shell crab ($7.95) or golden shrimp tempura with a perfect crunch ($12.95 for five piece of shrimp or a combination of three pieces of shrimp with vegetables), without the usual grated daikon accompaniment. I didn't care for the Dynamite here. What you might want to sample in its place is the pair of oysters ($8.95) baked with thin yet potent garlic sauce. Garlic fans will wish the portion were bigger.
Chicken karaage ($14.95) also gets the garlicky treatment, offered as one of 18 teishoku selections served with tsukemono, miso soup, salad and rice. Other entree selections include chicken katsu ($14.95), teriyaki chicken ($14.95), three styles of saba ($14.95), tonkatsu ($15.95) and miso or shoyu butterfish ($16.95).
I didn't get around to trying the various steak, shrimp and lobster combinations that run a princely $24.95 to $39.95, but combination bentos ($14.95 to $18.95) might be enough to sate your appetite as you build them yourself from any two of 22 entree selections offered, such as teriyaki beef, salmon katsu, shrimp tempura or four pieces of nigiri sushi.
For dessert there is the usual choice of ice cream or mochi ice cream ($4.95), but there's an added treat of Banana Twist, slices of banana tempura served with ice cream and chocolate sauce.