This restaurant is located in the Ihilani - a JW Marriott Hawaii resort hotel and spa located in Kapolei. According to google maps it’s normally a 37 minute drive (28 miles) from our accommodations at the Waikiki Banyan at the corner of Ohua and Kuhio. It took our Hawaiian friend a little over an hour to get there due to rush hour traffic even though we left around 4:00 PM.
When we arrived for our 6:00 PM reservation, the restaurant was busy but not crowded.
Our group of 11 had a private tatami room where you are required to sit in a recessed floor. This is a private room that is is separated from the “regular” dining area.
For the birthday dinner, we had the Japanese buffet that had a selection of condiments, salads, starters, sashimi, sushi rolls, and hot foods.
Starters included a salad with a Japanese influence and agedashi tofu with cold noodles. Condiments at the buffet bar included marinated seaweed, pickled vegetables and ume (preserved plum with seed). The ume was very salty.
There was also a good selection of different sushi rolls that I don’t normally see at the regular sushi restaurants including the following:
• Hawaii Rainbow Roll - spicy tuna and avocado topped with tuna and salmon
• Surfing Unagi Roll - snow crab salad, avocado and topped with grilled fresh water eel
• Ushio Tei Crunch Roll - shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, crunchy flakes and unagi (eel) sauce
The sashimi selections came in small dishes with each dish containing 3 pieces.
There was also thin sliced marinated tako (octopus) that tasted okay.
Other proteins included miso marinated salmon, sliced steak, teriyaki chicken, and prawn tempura.
There was a selection of about 5 or 6 desserts including a lemon chiffon cake, pineapple upside cake and tiramisu.
Our tea cups were always filled and our dirty dishes were also removed promptly – 4 out of 5 rating for service.
The price of the buffet was $43 per person. “Was it worth it?”; yes and no depending on what you like to eat; but in my opinion, a little too rich for my blood. How much sushi and sashimi can you eat? The quality of the food was above average.
Overall rating is 3.5 out of 5 for food and service.
Notes & Tips
• Sitting in the tatami room requires you to remove your shoes, leave them at room entrance and wear the provided slippers. However, it is a “pain in the butt” getting in and out to get more food.
• There is a separate area where you can sit at regular tables.
• There is also an ala carte menu. In addition there is a separate counter area for sashimi and sushi preparation.
• See menu on-line.
• If you’re a tourist and not driving it’s probably a little difficult to get to unless you’re staying at the Ihilani resort or one of the other ones close by. I was in town for the marathon and if wasn’t for our friend’s birthday who was a Honolulu resident, we would probably not be here.
• There was also lots of traffic this evening heading into Waikiki.
• There is complimentary 3 hour parking with purchases of $50 or more at the restaurant; otherwise it is $10 per hour. However, I was told that the time limit was not enforced.
• There are several restaurants on site besides the Japanese restaurant.
• We arrived approximately 30+ minutes before our reservation and we took a tour of the Aulani – Disney Resort next to the Ihilani hotel complex. If you’re in the area you should take a walk through the Disney resort.
• The JW Marriott Hawaii resort hotel complex is apparently closing down and possibly changing to a resort with owner units.
• The hotel complex has a large outdoor swimming pool for fish. It was too dark for me to take clear pictures but I believe there were some tropical fish including reef sharks in the pool.