"Madai," fish head stew

“Madai,” fish head stew

1111 Dillingham Blvd. Honolulu, HI
Phone number (808) 841-3773

Everything about Yohei Sushi Restaurant is pretty unobtrusive. Some of it has to do with its location right across Kapalama Canal. You’d think nothing of its interior either, which is comfortable and homey, and looks much like any other Japanese mom-and-pop restaurant on this island.

But order anything on the menu — seriously, anything — and I think you’ll understand how Yohei very quickly became my go-to place for timeless Japanese dishes.

Typically, I order and recommend the Misoyaki Butterfish. Served teishoku-style (meal set), it comes complete with a bowl of miso soup and rice, zaru soba, tsukemono (Japanese pickles) and chawanmushi (egg custard), as well as some other side depending on what the chef prepared that day. If it sounds like a lot of food, it is. Don’t let that distract you, though, from what really matters: The butterfish at Yohei is the best you will ever have. It nearly melts on the tongue, with a little crunch from caramelized skin and the right balance of salty and sweet.

California Roll

California Roll

I mean, feel free to disagree, but I haven’t encountered one person yet who has.

Recently, I’ve begun to venture to other parts of the menu, sampling specials like the Hamachi Kama (collar of the fish) and Tempura and Zaru combination meal. All of it is delicious and worth trying, but I’ve finally settled on my latest favorite.

You’ll find it on a small list of special menu items. I only recently learned it’s called “madai,” or you can simply ask if the chef has any fish heads — and then wait in anticipation.

Fish heads aren’t for everyone. It’s a lot of work, too, picking through bones and crevices for meat — but when you find it, it is incredibly tender. Yohei cooks its fish heads in a simple shoyu-based broth that comes with sides, like ginger and veggies. The set also comes complete with teishoku items, so be prepared for a big meal. (You’d be surprised at how much meat can be found in a fish head.)

Misoyaki Butterfish

Misoyaki Butterfish

Other memorable items to consider: The Sushi Zen is an exciting and full tray of a lot of little items to sample. Expect a plate of sushi along with zaru soba, miso soup and grilled fish. One hundred percent of the time, my fiancé orders the Maguro Tempura teishoku, which features tempura ahi and vegetables. Oh, and be sure to start things off with a California Roll, which is made with real and fresh crab meat.

Perhaps the best part about Yohei, though, is that it is a restaurant for all occasions. It’s where I’ve had date nights or double date nights, where I took my dad and the rest of my family for dinner, where I’ve gone with friends. And always, the service feels like family.

P.S. Don’t forget a bottle of sake to go along with it all to really get everyone in a convivial mood. My recommendation: Otokoyama.



SERVICE Outstanding
SQUISHINESS Tables can get a little tight
STRAWBERRIES Yohei sometimes brings them in from Japan



Ah, the Backstreet Boys, so many memories. Who knew they were so incredibly needy? I only recently found out, thanks to a portion of public document website The Smoking Gun that’s devoted to celebrity riders.

Riders, if you’ve never heard of them, are basically the lists of things celebrities demand backstage — most of it food-related.


Among many things, Backstreet Boys members required a large bowl of soup to be out each day upon their arrival. Dressing rooms also were to include 24 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a gallon of milk, 2 quarts of apple and orange juice, and a jar of honey, among many other items.

What I don’t understand is how these singers have time to drink a dozen bottles of water, and eat through jars of honey and peanut butter all in one show. Am I missing something here?

You can see more on everyone from Mariah Carey and TLC to Steve Miller at (By the way, have fun perusing an entire tab devoted to Justin Bieber.)