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The Weekly Eater

By Nadine Kam

Thursday, July 6, 2000

Moribe up to
New Wave challenge

FROM the outside, Sushi Bistro Shun is as bland as a couple dozen mom-and-pop Japanese restaurants around town. It wouldn't take a feng shui expert to figure the restaurant is on the wrong side of King street, its door facing away from drivers seeking diversion from the same old sights. The restaurant is also in what looks like a drab cement-block apartment complex. Doesn't sound promising, huh?

How long have you lived here?

Kamaaina know some of the best food can be found in less than savory digs, so it often pays to explore. Once you get inside Sushi Bistro Shun, you'll find it quite a bright spot, dressed in lively colors of lime and peach.

Take a seat at table, sushi bar, or parties of eight or so may call in to reserve floor seating in the tatami room, which these days, isn't necessarily furnished with straw mats.

This is one of those New Wave Japanese restaurants you may have heard about -- which can be good or bad depending on how adventurous you are. The good thing about this one is the menu has been created by chef Hideaki Moribe, formerly with Sheraton Kauai, so his experiments are more likely to revolve around crowd-pleasing poke than natto.

Rather than sticking to flavors of Japan and Hawaii, Moribe also draws from other cultures for a menu unique to this type of restaurant.


Food StarStarStar1/2
Atmosphere StarStarStar1/2
Service StarStarStarStar
Value StarStarStarStar

Bullet Address: 1914 S. King St. (between King's Cafe 2000 and Suehiro)
Bullet Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays
Bullet Prices: About $36 to $40 for two without drinks
Bullet Call: 941-1333

While you can eat your fill of sushi, nigiri and Spider Rolls ($12) are just the beginning. You could warm up to the menu with the hiyashi chawanmushi, a smoky-flavored egg-crab custard served refreshingly chilled, or move straight to the poke-flavored Hawaiian Roll ($8), five pieces of ahi enveloping nori-wrapped avocado and served with a spicy ponzu sauce.

I always rail about cooking hamachi, a delicacy best enjoyed raw, but Sushi Bistro Shun presents the exception with its Hamachi Cajun Salad ($9.50). The fish is seared with a light coating of Cajun spices so it's still rare inside. It's then sliced and served with mesclun for wrapping in 3-by-5-inch sheets of nori. Fabulous!

Now here's a question for you, what came first, baking seafood with mayonnaise or Hari Kojima? I can't eat dishes like the Baked Spicy Oyster ($7.50) without thinking about the former "Let's Go Fishing" host's legacy. The half dozen pieces on the half shell were wrapped with maguro topped with a dollop of mayo seasoned with light Indian curry, a perfect touch.

The Steak with Miso Sauce ($14) came recommended, and those tolerant of sugar will probably love it, but the sauce was too strong for me.

Tempura is coated with a light batter and served in small portions, at $7 for two pieces of shrimp, and three pieces of vegetables (sweet potato and zucchini when I visited).

I have had my doubts about New Wave Japanese, but the balance between traditional cuisine and spices and flavors beyond Japan's shores is perfectly demonstrated here. It could be the start of the next food trend, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Hawaii has been a global society for a hundred years, long before the term became trendy.

See a listing of past restaurants reviewed in the
Do It Electric!

section online. Click the logo to go!

Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

-- excellent;
-- very good, exceeds expectations;
-- average;
-- below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to

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