Wednesday, January 20, 2016
First bite: Sushi Murayama delivers food and fun
Black tiger prawns were torched and served in that perfect crunchy/sweet state between being sashimi and fully cooked.
BY NADINE KAM
Sushi Murayama is one of the few restaurants lately, to open as an instant hit, thanks to chef/owner Ryuji Murayama’s sterling reputation at Tokkuri-Tei. His first solo restaurant is therefore packed, so don’t expect to get a reservation right away.
The biggest draw may very well be the chef himself. Born in Japan and raised here since 3, he’s more local than Japanese so you don’t have to worry about any language barriers. He spent three-and-a-half years honing his sushi skills in Japan, but in another life, he could have been a comedian as he keeps jokes coming, while welcoming each guest as a long-time friend.
In the age of the celebrity chef, he brings the one thing to the table that others have forgotten in recent years, hospitality. He leaves guests feeling good, and that positive vibe carries over to the entire experience.
The restaurant has a decent sized izakaya menu, but it’s the sushi that stands out, and the chef’s $75 per person omakase menu is a good place to start for those game to try anything. At any rate, it will lift you out of ahi mode to try many other types of fish.
Considering that, squeezing in between others’ reservations, I had an hour to complete this menu of chef’s selections, Murayama put out 10 selections at a rate of one selection about every 6 minutes. That’s some speedy work. The type and number of selections vary with availability of fish and shellfish, and perhaps your enthusiasm level. If you’re gushing over every dish, chef may just want to keep the praise coming.
Costwise, this broke down to $7.50 per selection. If you were to go the a la carte route for sushi, the range is $5 for tako, $8 for hamachi, ikura or scallop, up to $20 for ootoro and $27 for black tiger prawns.
Sushi Murayama is at 808 Center, at 808 Sheridan and 1320 Rycroft sts. #307. Call 784-2100. Open 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.