I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I absolutely LOVE sushi. Being here on the Big Island, we have access to some amazing fish, shellfish, and seaweeds. When I heard about Kenichi Pacific over in Kailua-Kona, I decided I needed to take a field trip to check it out. They boast one of the best Happy Hour sushi menus on the Island, and looking at it, I would have to agree. A 6-piece Rainbow Roll (snow crab, avocado, cucumber inside, tuna, white fish, shrimp, salmon, and avocado outside) for $9? Spicy tuna roll for $5? Yes, please! During Happy Hour, all of their rolls are 40-50% off. They also have beverage and appetizer specials. I could attest to the popularity of these specials when I looked in the bar area and there was nary an empty seat. I had made reservations for the main dining, room, however, and the hostess graciously showed me to my table where I could watch the sushi masters at work.
While they went to work filling orders for hungry Happy Hour patrons, I went to work going through the menu. In addition to traditional sushi fare and seafood options, Kenichi offers interesting salads and other warm and cold appetizers (including a thinly-sliced filet mignon with truffle ponzu), and mouth-watering entrees including diver scallop curry, Kenichi duck confit, Wafu pasta, and traditional sashimi dinners.
I wanted to order everything. Literally. I think my server thought I was a bit nuts when I told her to leave the menu after I’d placed my initial order. I was compelled to try the restaurant’s version of manapua, which included duck confit and was served on a bao bun. Two bites and my mouth was singing. Then I moved on to the main event- sashimi. The hotate (scallops) were some of the sweetest I’ve ever had. They were chopped and mixed with a very light mayonnaise sauce. I also ordered the uni (one of my favorites) and found it to be so sweet and smooth, I wanted to (but resisted) ordering more.
Next I sampled the ebi and giant clam. Sometimes clam can be a bit rubbery, but not this one. It was clean and fantastic. The shrimp was perfectly and gently cooked to maintain its sweetness as well. Then I felt like it was time to order a roll. I went with the special of the day, which was a spicy tuna with cucumber and avocado in the inside, topped with seared tuna, scallions, and seaweed on top, with unagi sauce and sweet chili sauce on the sides.
As more and more places have started serving the “new style sashimi,” I decided to try Kenichi’s take on that. It was a super fresh yellowtail in a light oil with cilantro and serrano chile slices on top. Excellent!
Finally, I saw they had Kona kanpachi, so I went with sashimi style, as well as an order of sunomono to round out the meal. The kanpachi was excellent, and I loved the wakame seaweed touch in the sunomono.
In case you are wondering, no, I did not eat all of everything I ordered. I was sent home with 5 to-go containers that I enjoyed for my late night snack. Next time I’m on Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona, I won’t be surprised if I somehow “magically” end up back at Kenichi’s Pacific. Maybe I’ll bring some friends so we can try even more!