Tuesday, July 2, 2013

First course: Sushi Yuzu opens in Kapolei

Nadine Kam photos
Sushi YuZu's Ko Olina roll, with California roll center, and topped with ahi, hamachi, salmon and avocado.

Sushi YuZu celebrated its grand opening at Ko ʻOlina Resort on June 23, a day after a preview event highlighting specialties created by the husband and wife team, Motoko “Moco” and Isamu Kubota, who have won a loyal following through a handful of eateries including Kai, Kaiwa, Hale Macrobiotic, Kai Wailea and the original YuZu Hawaii at the Ala Moana Hotel.

Their latest effort brings izakaya fare to West Oahu, with help from New Jersey transplant sushi Chef Ikunari Yamamura and local chef Brandan Bandith.

YuZu's signature lotus root pizza.

True to Moco's macrobiotic roots, Sushi YuZu uses organic and natural ingredients and incorporates local produce when possible, although they concede not everyone is ready to a fully healthful approach, so there is a full complement of meat and seafood offerings. But, to put people on the right track, sushi is accompanied by YuZuʼs organic, wheat-free Tamari shoyu for the gluten-sensitive. And other sauces and dressings use vegan ingredients.

I was able to try several dishes on the menu, all winners, with price points from low (four pieces yakitori for $8.50, sushi rolls from $8.95) to high, to suit any budget.

 Sushi Yuzu is at 92-1047 Olani St., behind Just Tacos. Call 808.678.1155 or visit www.YuZuHawaii.com

For now, the restaurant is open for dinner only, from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.(last rrder) Sundays to Thursdays, and 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. (last order), Fridays and Saturdays.

During happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. to closing daily, patrons sitting at the bar can enjoy "Five 0," specials of $5 drinks and pupu including local chicken karaage, organic fried potatoes, spicy poke nachos, California roll, spicy king salmon roll, and more.

Isamu and Motoko "Moco" Kubota, with their restaurant's young yuzu tree.

Favorite food alert: Crisp-skinned organic potatoes drizzled with truffle oil and organic ketchup. (These potatoes don't need the ketchup.)

Grilled squid was our waiter's favorite dish, amazingly tender if somewhat alien looking, cooked with Hawaiian sea salt, pepper and tamari.

Rock shrimp tempura over spicy yuzu ahi roll.

Kurobuta chorizo dotted with goma and shichimi pepper.

This delicious matsutake-miso soup also contained slices of kabocha.

This appetizer of organic tofu, local vegetables and edamame accompanies the omakase meals.

The Hawaii omakase comprises a small order of poke, four pieces of Ko Olina roll, four pieces of tempura and yuzu ahi roll and two pieces of seafood dynamite roll; $29.95 as of June 22, 2013.

The more traditional nigiri sushi of the Japan omakase; $39.50 as of June 22, 2013.

Yakitori topped with dots of yuzu pepper paste. Don't let the small amount fool you, the pepper has plenty of bite. Very addictive.

YuZu white sangria of muddled fruit, yuzu juice, white wine and Absolut Mandarin. A refreshing combination!

Ritsuko Kukonu photographs one of the waiters showing the heart of palm that goes into YuZu's vegetarian tempura.

The heart of palm tempura comes with both tempura salt and yuzu salt.

Somen also has the bright citrus flavor of yuzu.

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