Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sansei Seafood Restaurant (Hawaii, US)

Sansei has a 25% discount on most of their menu items as long as you put in the order before 6pm. Since they open at 5:30pm, you can imagine the kinds of line-ups they get. Thankfully, they take reservations so we got a table right away and started ordering food immediately.

Lava Flow
We each started with our drinks and ordered Lava Flows all around. Think of Lava Flows as super Pina Coladas. Sansei describes it as Strawberry Coulis swirled with coconut cream, banana, pineapple, and Maui Silver Rum. If you're looking for a strong drink, take a pass because the Lava Flow is mild in alcohol, and potent in fruit and cream. It's absolutely delicious and I recommend it to everyone.

We ended up ordering too much for the 4 of us, so I'll just list it all out below.

Panko-Crusted Fresh Ahi Sashimi
Panko-Crusted Fresh Ahi Sashimi - island fresh ahi tuna wrapped with arugula and spinach, panko crusted and flash fried served with a soy wasabi butter sauce. Everything about this dish is great. It's crispy on the outside and soft (but firm) on the inside with all that ahi sashimi. There's no rice to weigh it down and the wasabi butter sauce is light and mild, not overpowering the taste of the roll. It's not a surprise that this dish is on their award winners list.

Matsuhisa Style Miso Butterfish
Matsuhisa Style Miso Butterfish - tender butterfish marinated and roasted in sake and sweet miso. The fish was so soft, tender, and buttery that we ended up getting 2 orders of it. H finished off an entire order on her own!

Crispy Fried Calamari - with a spicy Japanese cocktail sauce. The calamari was above average as it wasn't too greasy and it was lightly battered. The cocktail sauce was okay. I would have preferred a spicy chipotle mayo dip instead of the cocktail sauce.
Crispy Fried Calamari

DK's Crab Ramen with Asian Truffle Broth
DK's Crab Ramen with Asian Truffle Broth - topped with crab, cilantro, Thai basil and mild jalapenos. We had to remove the jalapenos quickly because they weren't all that mild and we ordered the ramen specifically for H to eat. The ramen was very delicious, although the noodles were a little more thinly pressed/cut than typical ramen. The toppings included went well with the noodles and the fantastic broth. The bowl was a little larger than I remember from 4 years ago when we first visited Sansei on our honeymoon.

Seared Ahi Salad
Seared Ahi Salad - seared Hawaiian ahi tuna over Kula greens with Sansei's soy sesame vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was light and refreshing and not too tarte or oily. The ahi was thinly sliced and only lightly seared around the edges. Coupled with the vinaigrette, the ahi tasted a bit like ahi tuna carpaccio.

Asian Shrimp Cake
Asian Shrimp Cake - crusted with crispy Chinese noodles, served over ginger-lime-chili-butter and cilantro pesto. The shrimp cake itself was tasty, but it was a very small portion. In total, there was probably less shrimp in the shrimp cake than what you'd get from a single dim sum order of har gau (shrimp dumplings). The crispy Chinese noodles were good on the first two bites, but then quickly became tiresome because they were flavorless. Our server complimented us on our ability to not make a mess of the table. We actually cheated because we used H's scissors on it...

Sansei Sashimi Trio
Sansei Sashimi Trio - ahi, hamachi, and salmon sashimi. We should have read the included fish because salmon is.. well, it's salmon.

Spider Roll
Spider Roll - crispy tempura soft shell crab, cucumber & Kaiware sprouts with sweet Thai chili sauce & rich unagi glaze. I'm a sucker for soft shell crab and this roll did not disappoint. I thought it could have been better with a little less rice, but I was probably getting full at that point. The crab was tasty and the roll went very well with the sauce. The sprouts gave it a more exotic and healthy taste to an otherwise already good tasting roll.

Spicy Japanese BLT Roll
Spicy Japanese BLT Roll - crispy salmon skin, local greens, tomato and spicy masago aioli. The salmon skin was indeed crispy, but there was very little of it. The tomato was a little odd and tasted out of place in a roll. There could have been more of the aioli as the roll tasted a little dry due to the greens. This roll tasted like a healthy weight watchers roll.

Seared Foie Gras Nigiri Sushi
Seared Foie Gras Nigiri Sushi - lightly seared and served with caramelized sweet onions & ripe mango and rich unagi glaze drizzle. This dish was the highlight of the meal for me. It was seared just enough to blacken the edges, giving it a little bit of crispiness. The foie gras was fantastic and went well with the nigiri rice. I would definitely order it again, despite the steep price ($20).

Tempura Fried Macadamia Nut Ice Cream
Tempura Fried Macadamia Nut Ice Cream - vanilla ice cream wrapped with buttery pound cake, rolled in roasted macadamia then flash fried and served with chocolate and caramel sauces. This dessert sounds as good as the description. As with many good restaurants, by the time we got to dessert we were already very full so we didn't enjoy it as much as we could have. Despite that, it was still absolutely delicious. The crispy macadamia crust gave the pound cake and ice cream a wonderful texture. The pound cake was light and fluffy and did a great job soaking up the chocolate and caramel sauces. If I was a local, I would have gone to Sansei just for this dessert. It's quite large so be prepared to share!

Service at Sansei was very good. Our server was around quite often and moved very quickly and efficiently. The food came out surprisingly quickly and we found our table out of real estate quite often. She was also super nice and always smiling.

The restaurant is a decent size and they fit a lot of tables in the space. It was very busy and we saw many parties turned away because they didn't have reservations. My advice: make reservations!

Food: Exceptional. Almost every dish was fantastic. Go with the award winner list and you can't go wrong.

Service: Very good. The server was super nice and efficient.

Setting: Good. The restaurant space was average, but the location is quiet with plenty of parking, and the tables were very clean.

Value: Good. The 25% discount is a great deal, but the prices are a little steep to begin with. The fantastic food makes up for this somewhat.

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

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