Doraku Tuna Tataki

Review: Doraku Sushi Happy Hour (4pm – 6pm Everyday) – One of the Best Waikiki Happy Hour Deals

Doraku in Waikiki, located on the third floor of the Royal Hawaian Center,  is one of the very few Westernized Japanese restaurants that I actually go to for pretty good sushi on Waikiki. The restaurant have traditional fresh sushi, Japanese stables, as well as a range of Japanese Fusion creations. The decor is modern and very Japanese-Hawaiian with stained wood tables and chairs. They also have a large slab of wood designated as a first-come first-serve community table in the middle of the dining room. Fun fact: Doraku was created by Kevin Aoki, son of Rocky Aoki – the founder of Benihana.

While their menu is solid, the regular price is suitably (or ridiculously?)  high for the tourist-centric Waikiki strip. That’s what make their happy hour menu so special and more people need to know about it.

The short summary on Happy Hour:

  • $3 Well drinks
  • $4 Kirin Draft
  • $5 large Kirin Ichiban Sake, house chardonnay and merlot
  • $2.50-$7 appetizers (California rolls, chicken kara’age, ahi poke, steak/chicken/tuna tataki, yakitori)

Below are some of the dishes I tried for a single person at the bar. I was happily stuffed by the end of it the meal–

Doraku California Roll

California Roll ($4) – Solid California Roll filler with a good proportion of mayonnaise artificial crab meat wrapped around sushi rice. Not amazing, but a good start

Doraku Kirin Ichiban Sake

Kirin Ichiban Sake ($5) – Nothing goes better with Japanese food than sake. Above is the nigori style house sake, which is unfiltered rice wine with a smooth, creamy, and semi-sweet taste

Doraku Tuna Tataki

Tuna Tataki ($6) – Clean slices of raw tuna served with julienne daikon radish, sweet onions, seasoned wakame, kaiware, ponzu sauce, crispy bits of fired garlic chips, and garlic aioli

Doraku Steak Shishito Pepper Yakitori

Steak Shishito Pepper Yakitori ($6) – Generous chunks of steak on a stick seasoned with savory peppers and green onion. Served with a side of salad covered in a sweet/creamy dressing

Doraku Dyano Don

Dyano Don ($6) – On top of a bed of sushi rice is a mix of the day’s seafood scraps from the chef, light battered and fried. The mix is covered in tobiko roes and tossed with a creamy garlic aioli

Overall, I’m pretty happy about the Doraku Happy Hour. The food is quality Japanese fusion, and the happy hour prices make it reasonable. The only problem is that the 4-6 PM time limit is a bit restricting for most people that have working day jobs…


Yelp Link:

Varied Maki Rolls

Review: Yamato Japanese Restaurant: Getting the Sushi Buffet Fix in Boston

Yamato Restaurant

Located in Brighton, a neighborhood just 6 miles away from Boston proper, Yamato Japanese Restaurant is a valuable find for those with strong cravings for sushi. Given the average price of $8-$10 per maki roll in other sushi restaurants around Boston, an all-you-can-eat $16 lunch/ $24 dinner option seems like an obvious choice. To be frank, this restaurant is by no means the best sushi or sushi buffet restaurant I’ve ever had, but for the only sushi buffet location accessible by Boston public transit, this place is great for a sushi buffet fix in Boston (the next buffet place would be Minados in Natick 22 miles away). For the price, location, and all-you-can-eat made-to-order sushi, this Yamato Japanese Restaurant is hard to beat as the most economical way to binge on enjoy a  wide variety of sushi in Boston.

First things first, aside from maybe Seaweed Salad and Miso Soup to get things started, I would not recommend getting any of their appetizers. You are here for sushi and Yamato is here to provide that for you; focus on your main goal. More often than not, the non-sushi appetizers are prepared sloppily and only fills you up before you can maximize your sushi intake. The fried dumplings and calamari that Yamato served, for example, were bland and tasteless.

Fried Appetizers

Diving straight into the preferred sashimi selection, we had cuts of Salmon (Sake), Bass (Suzuki), Tuna (Maguro), Yellowtail (Hamachi), Squid (Ika) and Mackerel(Saba). Salmon sashimi is recognizable with its bright orange and white stripes. This sashimi was pretty average with a creamy texture, but did not contain the subtle sweetness that one would find in fresh caught salmon of the Pacific Northwest. The Bass carried a light red and white color with a smooth texture, but was served ice cold… The red-hued Tuna was pretty good with a slightly tender texture and fresh taste. Light beige in color, Yellowtail cuts had a smooth texture and subtle sweet taste. The white circular pieces of squid were as expected: rough, chewy texture, with a gelatinous, rubbery taste. Mackerel pieces have a grey skin attached to white meat and are pretty interesting. They have a slightly savory taste and texture of cooked fish. 

For nigiri we got Eel (Unagi) and Salmon Roe (Ikura). Eel sushi is not served raw, but grilled with a sweet bbq sauce composed of soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. The nigiri is further garnished with sesame and bound to rice with a seaweed wrap. Without an option for Eel sashimi, the Eel Nigiri was pretty delicious. Salmon Roe Nigiri was also a good choice, as the round, bright orange salmon eggs burst (literally) with an explosion of savory flavor moderated by a piece of sushi rice. 

Assorted Sashimi, Maki, and Nigiri

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