I vacation a lot all over the world and Japanese food, especially sushi, is one of my favorite cuisines. I’ve eaten at Ushio Tei twice when on vacation from Seattle where I’ve eaten at about every sushi place back home. I must say this is probably one of the most mixed reviews I ever written on any restaurant I’ve been to.
First you must understand Ushio Tei is in the Marriott Ilihani 5-star hotel. I think I’ve eaten at every restaurant in this hotel once (although I’ve never stayed at the hotel, always at the beach club condos a couple lagoons down.) It completely baffles me that as far as I can remember, none of the restaurants in this hotel have a panoramic view of the lagoon and ocean. A major design flaw with the hotel in my mind.
Being a restaurant in a 5-star hotel in Hawaii means one thing for sure: WAY OVERPRICED. But it was the last night of our stay and I was exhausted from the water park earlier that day. My oldest son has a severe milk allergy so we usually opt for sushi/Japanes food as it is typically safe for him to eat. We knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into at this restaurant but we decided we were willing to pay out the nose for the convenience of just walking there and wanted to do something a little special for our last night. In addition, Beach Club guests get 10% off (whoopee).
The place is rather small and has not view really to speak of except for some landscaped gardens. It is a nice authentic feeling interior aside from the fluorescent light panels in the ceiling. We’ve eaten the hyped buffet here before and I can say it is definitely overpriced for what you get based on eating it and seeing what they were serving Friday night.
We carefully ordered a nice variety of cooked food and sushi. Everything was executed perfectly and very authentically. Service was pleasant and not too in your face as it can be at restaurants in high-end hotels like this. The teriyaki chicken appetizer was four large skewers – very surprising. The tofu agedashi was out of this world. All the sushi was excellent. The rice beer was delicious. The house smoked salmon was wonderful with the special dressing.
So why a mixed review? The sushi selection here is absolutely embarrassing for a Japanese restaurant in a 5-star hotel in Hawaii. Here’s my conversation with the sushi chef when we walked in (I always like to chat with the chef briefly to find out what they have including anything ‘special’):
“What’s good tonight?”
“Do you have Toro?”
“Do you have Monkfish liver?”
“Do you have King Crab?”
“Do you have Abalone?”
“No – but I can order it in if you come here again.”
“Do you have Mackerel?”
“How about Uni?”
“How about White Tuna?”
“How about Kampachi?”
“No – we just have the most popular items.”
The conveyor belt place near my house in Seattle has a better selection of sushi than this place. Shame on the management. But looking around, not a lot of people were eating sushi. So maybe managements philosophy is why buy the more expensive stuff only to throw it away because it doesn’t all get eaten since none of the locals are going to coming to this overpriced place for their sushi in my estimation.
Bottom line, for Japanese food, a big thumbs up. For selection of sushi a big thumbs down. For prices, a small thumbs down, way overpriced but to be expected considering the location.
Pros: Japenese Food doesn't get much better than this
Cons: Very lacky Sushi Selection. Overpriced.