A Cut Above the Rest

With its master chefs and impressive ingredients, Teppanyaki Ginza Sumikawa elevates the level of fine dining on O‘ahu.

During my first visit to Tokyo, I was quickly enlightened to the level of luxury, service and refinement that customary in Japan—culture that prides itself on quality, not quantity, and taking the time to apply the well-deserved delicate details in all aspects of life. Over the last five years, several Japanese-owned and -run restaurants have expanded to Hawai‘i, elevating the fine-dining experience in the Islands.

The newest entry into the Honolulu dining scene, Teppanyaki Ginza Sumikawa, has raised the bar yet again, by focusing its o?erings around not only the finest ingredients in the islands—but the best in the world.

Located on King Street, in a newly transformed restaurant space which was previously occupied by the popular Th ai restaurant Mei Kong II, Teppanyaki Ginza Sumikawa is the sister restaurant to the widely popular Sushi Ginza Onodera. Brought to Hawai‘i by Japanese restaurateur Hiroshi Onodera, who after many years of success in the catering industry in Hokkaido, Japan, decided, like a modern culinary fairytale, to open restaurants in his favorite cities in the world—Tokyo, Hong Kong, Honolulu and coming soon, Paris.

The build-out of his newest Honolulu concept, Teppanyaki Ginza Sumikawa is of the caliber of some of the best restaurants in the world. Beautiful stone and woodwork surround the interior and exterior of the restaurant to provide a naturally pristine dining environment that even on a busy evening, allows its diners to feel an overwhelming sense of calm. There are two dining rooms that seat 13 and six, respectfully, around specialty steel teppan plates flown in from Japan. In addition to traditional Japanese teppanyaki, the restaurant’s master chefs have also completed training in traditional French and Italian cuisine.


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In addition to traditional Japanese teppanyaki, Teppanyaki Ginza Sumikawa’s master chefs have also completed training in traditional French and Italian cuisine.

With three set menus to choose from, deciding what to order at Ginza Sumikawa is not diffi cult. Priced at $200, $225 or $250 per person, the main difference between the restaurant’s signature offerings is the grade of beef. Ginza Sumikawa is one of only three restaurants in America—and the only one in Hawai‘i—licensed to sell authentic Kobe beef (the other two are restaurants in New York City and at the Wynn, Las Vegas). Naturally, along with every other diner seated in the room with us, I chose the premium offering, which provides the opportunity to try A5 grade Kobe steak. But before having a chance to enjoy the buttery beef made famous around the globe, there were 10 courses and an amuse-bouche to enjoy—and not one disappointed.

Each piece of the 12-course dinner was perfectly portioned and timed to make for an enjoyable date-night. The meal began with a perfectly frosty Suntory Malt Premium beer from Japan and the waiter clipping a large white linen bib with a long glistening golden chain around our neck to protect us from any possible splatter from the 250-degree teppan plate. The first course, fresh Hawaiian maguro (bluefin tuna) carpaccio with green pepper sauce was a light a refreshing start to the meal. The second course, a chilled duck breast with orange sauce, was perfectly flavored and began to showcase the exceptionally high level of culinary skills chef Kotobuki, chef Yamane and chef Umeda have. It was at this point in the meal that I realized that the cuisine at Ginza

Sumikawa provides more of French-inspired dining experience than the traditional Japanese flavors that my palate was anticipating. Initially, I was disappointed, as I had prepared myself for world-class Japanese cuisine; however, once I realized that Ginza Sumikawa’s menu had a much more global approach to teppanyaki, I was able to properly appreciate each and every delicate morsel served by these specially-trained chefs.

The next course, seared duck foie gras with truffle sauce, featured fresh foie flown in from the Hudson Valley and shaved black truffle from France. This dish utilized the teppan plate to sear the outside of the rich foie gras to a crispy crust, while allowing the rich oils to roll off it. After the first bite, I realized that I had never actually experienced a perfectly prepared piece of foie gras. It was heavenly, and according to the restaurant’s general manager, Man Bong Ching, this is the one dish that is most often requested for an additional serving, and understandably, because it is so delectable.

The small courses continued: each unique and flavorful, including chilled corn potage, a cool soup and perfect palate cleanser after the rich bite of foie gras.

Next came a stick salad with homemade sesame dressing. This salad was a formal play on an old-fashioned, traditional-style Japanese salad, most often seen in more casual restaurants; however, the presentation and simplicity of the long sticks of vegetables and strips of lettuce, presented in a crystal cup with the fresh dressing to use as a dipping sauce, was a creation I could enjoy nightly. Next came a little taste of Italy in the form of fresh chicken grunt (actually a fish) with bouillabaisse sauce on saffron risotto, followed by teppanyaki-grilled fresh vegetables, Kona abalone and fresh live lobster. The presentation for the vegetables was as though they were picked fresh from the farm. The chefs brought out a large basket featuring an array of fresh organic island produce, and let us select the vegetables to accompany our meal. There was a similar presentation for the seafood, giving diners a choice between abalone and lobster; however, the deluxe $250 menu comes with a little of all available seafood options, including fresh fish flown in twice a week from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

Lastly, to add another star to an already five-star meal, the grand finale: A5 grade Kobe beef. The chef presented us with raw piece of A5 grade Kobe beef filet, perfectly marbled unlike any beef I have ever seen. After asking us to select our cut and preparation preferences, he began to lightly sear the beef on the teppan plate. The waiter presented us with a pink Himalayan salt bowl for use to season our steak by simply dragging the beef across the bowl.

They also provided three other sauces for dipping the Kobe beef into—shoyu aged for three years, fresh Maui onion sauce and fresh wasabi from Japan. Although all sauces were amazing, the world-famous buttery beef needed nothing more than a light rub on top of the salt bowl—and it was perfection. At the end of the meal, these solid salt bowls are also cleaned and packed for guests to take home, leaving diners the impossible challenge of recreating the tastes and flavors only experienced on an evening dining at Ginza Sumikawa.

Teppanyaki Ginza Sumikawa, 1726 South King St., 784-0567 or teppanyaki-ginzasumikawa.com

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