There are a few things Chiba-Ken isn’t. It isn’t the place to go if you want to feast on rolls covered in orgasm sauce or the like (although they do have one or two). It isn’t a place where you’ll find modern Japanese American fusion items. It isn’t a hip and trendy spot where you go to be seen. And, apparently, it isn’t a place that offers up descriptions on their menu.
What it is, however, is a modestly decorated, out of the way, restaurant that offers up exceptionally executed dishes with minimal ingredients where substance trumps style. The chirashi bowl ($22.75) supports the “less is more” adage with proteins that shine without an abundance of supporting flavors with its skillfully sliced fish, octopus, and scallop sashimi on top a bed of perfectly seasoned rice.
Even common rolls, like the spicy tuna and cucumber roll ($6.95), are expertly crafted in tight rolls with minimal rice. As mentioned earlier, menu items don’t have descriptions and the waitress, who rarely stopped by the table, was little help. So when we ordered the Firecracker roll ($8.50) we didn’t realize that it was a large tempura battered and fried roll that was covered in sauce. It may be popular with some, but it was our least favorite dish of the night as the sauce drowned out any other discernible flavors.
We did enjoy some hot items like the veggie tempura ($9.50), chicken skewers ($1.90 each) that were well seasoned but slightly overcooked, and the delicate and flakey broiled butterfish marinated in miso sauce ($14.50).
You’ll want to make reservations or get here early. We arrived right as they opened at 5:30 and there was already a line about six people deep waiting to get in and several tables and seats at the sushi counter were reserved for later.
468 Ena Rd
Honolulu, HI 96815