There’s no shortage of Japanese-inspired cuisine in downtown Waikiki Beach. Since 2008, Doraku has provided a range of interesting sushi dishes. Upstairs in the Royal Hawaiian shopping centre, it’s a huge restaurant, with a pleasant terrace that gets the evening breezes.

Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband found their way to Doraku by searching on Yelp and TripAdvisor. The area’s not noted for great dining options. There are a few fine dining establishments and the reasonable Taormina (Sicilian) restaurant nearby but nothing has really wowed the tastebuds.

Doraku apparently means ‘the road to happiness’ (according to its website). It was founded by Kevin Aoki, son of the late Rocky Aoki, who founded Benihana. Restaurants, it seems, are in the blood.

Battling a three-hour difference between San Francisco and Honolulu, Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband were trying desperately to stay awake.  We ordered a few dishes with intriguing descriptions and settled in, nursing a beer and a ‘Tokyo Cosmopolitan’ (which was actually quite delicious).

We selected three dishes, two of which were on the large side. First up were the ’emperor’ rolls (pictured above). This dramatic-looking dish is a specialty of the house. ‘No rice’ sushi rolls feature tuna, salmon, crab, shrimp and avocado. They’re crusted with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and flash fried. They’re topped with a ‘spring mix’, sweet onions, aioli and ‘masago’ – the dots of roe you can see from the picture, above. They were very edible and very filling. Not a bad start.

Next up was Japanese-style garlic steak. This is described on the menu as an eight-ounce grilled ribeye, served with a garlic ginger ponzu sauce (served in a separate bowl), sauteed mushrooms, bean sprouts and sweet onions. We ordered the meat rare and parts of it were. Notwithstanding, it remained quite tender and the sauce was delicious. We would have enjoyed a few more mushrooms but the bean sprouts gave a nice crunch.

Japanese style garlic steak

Japanese style garlic steak

Our final savoury dish was listed under ‘cold dishes’ but served hot – spicy crunchy trio. These were two pieces each of Big Eye tuna, salmon and hamachi served on top of crispy sushi rice. The topping was cold but the rice was hot. The tuna in particular was very spicy. We both felt that eating the fish element on its own worked well and the crispy sushi rice was much better dipped in a little soy (or the ponzu sauce from the steak).

Tuna salmon rolls

A cold dish served hot

One of the desserts sounded too exotic to resist – Brownie tempura. These were chocolate fudge brownies dipped in tempura batter and deep fried. They were served with a choice of green tea or vanilla ice-cream – it’s obvious from the picture, above, which one gluttonous husband took. Greedy Girl thought the chocolate was dominated by the batter but gluttonous husband was happy to hoover most of the dish.

Brownie tempura

Brownie tempura

Doraku is a big, boisterous restaurant. The terrace is not only a pleasant place to sit but it’s probably the quietest spot too. It was interesting food that was very edible. As a modern take on Japanese cuisine, it probably has won a fair few fans.


2233 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu

Doraku Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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