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“Not worth the price”
Review of Sushi Sasabune

Sushi Sasabune
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Ranked #168 of 2,368 Restaurants in Honolulu
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $50 - $50
Cuisines: Sushi
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Keeaumoku St.
Transit: South King street and Keeaumoku street by bus.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Not worth the price”
Reviewed December 18, 2013

I'll begin by accepting some fault for our disappointment at Sushi Sasabune...we interpreted the hype and reviews to indicate that this restaurant is on par with sushi/nigiri we've had in Japan, specifically at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo and as part of many multi-course kaiseki meals during our travels. It simply is not.

We were expecting 10-12 courses of high end nigiri when ordering the omakase, but instead had a mix of more western style courses including stuffed squid and baked lobster. Good to be sure, but not what we anticipated.

Furthermore, to our surprise, numerous courses were seasoned with wasabi to the point of overpowering the fish. Another course was explained as being coated in "lemon pepper." Perhaps the sushi chef has learned to be heavy-handed with the seasonings to accommodate the American palate? Again, not what we expected.

To his credit, some courses were an absolute delight and they made a point of detailing where in the world each course's fish had been flown in from.

Most disturbing was when the sushi chef essentially "tapped out" shortly after 10 pm (when they close) and turned over the food prep to a non-Japanese underling for our last 2 courses. Please note we arrived on time for our 8:30 pm reservation and were seated about the same time as 3 other parties (one which had ~6-7 people)---all of whom were still dining at 10 pm. The chef literally walked thru the dining room with his uniform removed wearing only a white undershirt. Unbelievable and unacceptable at an establishment in which dinner for two cost >$300. We were paying for HIM to make our sushi.

As a result, the last course was laughable as the assistant scrounged handfuls of crabmeat and quickly created crab rolls for the remaining tables while the staff broke down the sushi bar as fast as humanely possible. Yes, we felt rushed. And yet it was only 10:15pm and the restaurant was still a third full. Quite strange.

Frankly I think the sushi chef is probably pretty skilled (based on a few of the courses), but has become jaded and burned out from trying to prepare authentic Japanese style sushi for American customers that have different expectations. Of the many acclaimed and expensive restaurants we've had the good fortune to dine in, I've never been lectured to about dining room/eating rules as we were at Sushi Sasabune. We saw other customers lectured in the same manner. I think this comes from too many people showing up asking for california rolls and sake bombs, which must mortify this particular chef. The ridiculous premium charged for their food seems to be a rudimentary attempt to keep the rift-raft out. Okay, but the food, service, and ambience need to match the price.

I'm not really sure who I'd recommend this restaurant to...maybe people who equate expensive with good?

People who I definitely would caution to stay away are those who think this place is going to be a throw-back to that great sushi you had in Japan. Or those who saw the documentary 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' and think this place is the Honolulu's version of Jiro's Ginza Metro station restaurant.

It's not.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank DGUSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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288 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Cairns, Australia
Level Contributor
207 reviews
119 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 105 helpful votes
“Walked in, walked back out again”
Reviewed November 25, 2013

We were looking for something to eat and walked in to Sushi Sasabune for dinner. It wasn't too late and the restaurant was half empty and we were asked if we made a reservation. On answering no, we were then unpleasantly told that we wouldn't be able to order anything from the menu and that we would have to eat whatever the chef wanted to prepare and that even then it would be limited. There are good sushi restaurants nearby and I would avoid this particular one in the future.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
1 Thank sismith17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
30 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Best Sushi Ever”
Reviewed November 10, 2013 via mobile

Was recommended to try this on my last night in Honolulu, was a bit reluctant as some of the recommendations can be tourist traps - not this place.

About 2 miles from Waikiki easy to get to.

Make reservations as you will need them, it's a bit pricey compared to what most people have had for sushi before.

I had the 13 course tasting menu and it was excellent and felt full which is unusual for sushi.

Visited November 2013
Thank Caravan50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
37 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Awesome experience”
Reviewed November 10, 2013 via mobile

My friends brought me to this restaurant claiming that it has awesome sushi on the island. My friend ordered a la carte. I ordered omakase that consists of about 20+ pieces of seafood. I've been to Sushi Yasuda, Sushi of Gari, BUGS, Nobu and Bond St in NYC. This experience was of simple fresh sushi with intricate taste. The uni was buttery and melted in my mouth without the fishy taste in some other restaurants. They served a clam soup and cooked lobster tail which was great. I prefer the raw seafood. I've been wanting to go back ever since. Perhaps I will try Sasabune in manhattan.

Thank Hunneeb33
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cookeville, Tennessee
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Best sushi ever”
Reviewed November 5, 2013 via mobile

So delicious! Best meal ever!! The staff is amazing. The chef is a magician! I am on awe of the experience I just had.

Thank lovelylisa1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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