Sushi Sasabune on South King Street tops the latest Zagat restaurant survey for having the best food in Hawaii.
La Mer at the Halekulani topped the lists for service and decor, while Roy’s Restaurants was rated the most popular dining spot.
Leading restaurants in Hawaii according to the 2011 Zagat guide
The survey by the noted international restaurant guide covers 389 restaurants across Hawaii as rated by 2,942 avid, local diners in four categories: food, decor, service and cost.
Zagat says in its review of Sushi Sasabune: "You can definitely trust Seiji Kumagawa to prepare an absolutely amazing omakase with melt-in-your-mouth fish flown in that day."
Still, some diners reported they were put off by the "dictatorial" service, saying the chef has strict orders about how to eat his dishes and gets mad if you don’t eat something. Though the sushi is pricey, fans still say it’s "hard to find anything better anywhere in the world."
Other restaurants in Zagat’s top 10 for best food in Hawaii are Hiroshi Eurasian, Alan Wong’s, La Mer, Mama’s Fish House (Maui), Chef Mavro, Haliimaile General Store (Maui), Le Bistro, Michel’s and Nobu Waikiki.
Matsumoto’s Shave Ice in Haleiwa was rated the best buy in the survey; Big City Diner provided the best breakfast; Alan Wong’s was best for business dining, people watching, romantic dining, special occasions and wine list; while Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina was the top "local favorite."
Azure was tops for quiet conversation, "trendy" and "twentysomethings."
Some trends noted in the Zagat report include a growing interest in "eating local" among Hawaii diners, with 74 percent of those surveyed saying they think it’s important that their food be locally sourced, organic or sustainably raised.
Overall, Hawaii diners are eating out less, with the average number of meals out per week falling slightly from 3.2 to 3.1 in the last survey. The average cost of a meal here is $37.66, higher than the national average of $35.62 and more expensive when compared with cities like Seattle ($29.33) and Los Angeles ($34.85).
Fifty-seven percent of respondents said poor service was their No. 1 complaint. Hawaii diners tipped an average of 18.7 percent compared with 19.2 percent nationally, the survey said. Only 10 percent made reservations online, but that’s more than double the percentage since the last survey.
Another interesting trend to note: 20 percent of those surveyed said they use their smartphones during a meal to take pictures of their food.
For Zagat’s complete Hawaii survey results, go to www.zagat.com/buzz/hawaii.