Kaka'ako Eats: California Beach Rock 'N Sushi

Yesterday we celebrated Diner AC’s birthday at California Rock ‘N Sushi on Ward avenue, located nextdoor to Kanpai, formerly known as Tio’s, formerly known as Dixie Grill.

I’ll admit, all the time this place has been here, this is a first for me.

As for the name ‘California Beach Rock ‘N Sushi’, I can’t explain how that came about, as I didn’t get a chance to speak with the owner, nor have I found any resource online that has the information, including their own website. This place only has one location here in Honolulu, so it can’t be their original location’s name. Which has me wondering why they didn’t name it ‘Ala Moana Beach Rock ‘N Sushi’, which sounds pretty cool, actually.

For now I’ll take it that it stands for the type of sushi they offer, which for the most part is in the contemporary, non-traditional style made popular in California. I tell ya’, just like the pizza, them Californians just can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to food, as they’ve now done with sushi. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s Ramen Shops in the Golden State doing “California Ramen”. Gasp! But don’t worry Cali’ peeps, we still love ya’.

While birthday girl Diner AC is fond of all their sushi, her heart and tummy yearns for the ‘Tamanaha Tartare Roll’ as seen above, which I’ll go more into detail shortly.

First let’s check out the joint…

A sushi bar just wouldn’t be complete without Gyotaku artwork adorning the walls. This was one HUGE Ulua…


Beautiful work.

Getting to the grindz, while there’s a more extensive dinner menu you can choose from, we were here for lunch, where they have a special menu for that. Here it is…

CBR’nS also has desserts, including a Tempura-fried Ice Cream and a service bar serving select well drinks, beer, wine and sake.

So we started our meal off with two signature rolls as apps, choosing the Crunchy Roll…

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Crunchy Roll: Shrimp Tempura, Cucumber, Yamagobo, Kaiware & Spicy Mayo’ coated with crunchy Tempura Flakes and Smelt Roe. $12

And off the dinner menu, Diner AC’s fave’, the Tamanaha Tartare Roll…

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Tamanaha Tartare Roll: Crunchy Crab Roll topped with our famous Spicy Tuna Tartare Mix. $18

For entrees, we start with birthday girl Diner AC, who chose the Tempura Combo with Miso Butterfish…

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Tempura Combo with Miso Butterfish, 2 Shrimp Tempura, 3 Vegetable Tempura & Miso Butterfish (also includes salad, miso soup and rice). $12 (lunch special price)

Diner C (my now infamous Balut eating partner) chose the same dish…

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Tempura Combo with Miso Butterfish, 2 Shrimp Tempura, 3 Vegetable Tempura & Miso Butterfish (also includes salad, miso soup and rice). $12 (lunch special price)

Diner E also got the Tempura Combo, asking instead for Teriyaki Chicken to join the party…

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Tempura Combo with Teriyaki Chicken, 2 Shrimp Tempura, 3 Vegetable Tempura & Miso Butterfish (also includes salad, miso soup and rice). $12 (lunch special price)

Diner A went for the Super Lunch Combo…

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Super Lunch Combo: Teriyaki Chicken, California Roll, Croquette, Shumai and Chicken Wing. Also includes Miso Soup, Salad and Rice. $10

Last but least, yours truly chose the Supreme Salmon Super Combo…

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Supreme Salmon Super Combo with California Roll, Croquette, Shumai and Chicken Wing. Also includes Miso Soup, Salad and Rice. $11

Here’s the included Miso Soup

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Miso Soup

As always, the million dollar question, “How was it?” Fantastic! For those prices, are you kidding me? What a bargain! The only kinda’ pricey item was the Tamanaha Tartare Roll; yet that’s totally justified, considering there had to easily have been at least a half-pound or more of Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare piled on the top of that thing. Check it out…

Personally I’m not a Spicy Tuna fan, but Diner AC LOVES the stuff, and she was savoring every bite, where all I could hear being murmured by her while she ate was “mmmmmm” and “nom nom nom nom nom”. lol

Here in this bite-through cross-section view, you can see just how deep the pile of Spicy Ahi is on this bad boy…

The crunchy crab in the center added an interesting flavor and texture contrast to the smooth ‘n silky fresh Ahi. Although Spicy Ahi ain’t my thang, I can certainly say California Rock ‘N Sushi’s take on the dish is a standout that would probably rank high amongst fans, which it certainly does for Diner AC.

One more shot, so when Diner AC reads (and looks) at this, she can vicariously relive the moment…

Om nom nom nom nom nom. lol

As for the Crunchy Roll, I was diggin’ on that one. The tempura flakes it was crusted added a wonderful lightly toasted flavor and and a breaded texture profile to the sushi, making it a very unique experience, while the Shrimp tempura in the center just exploded with flavor. I could order a roll of this and call it a day, really. Same for Diner AC, who could easily just order a Tamanaha Roll as her appetizer and entree as the meal and call it a day.

Getting to the main course, my ‘Supreme Salmon’ was OFF THE CHARTS oishii-ono-awesome-licious!

That garlic butter soy sauce was KIL-LER! Killer, killer good, I tell ya’. They should bottle the stuff and sell it. I’d buy it! And the salmon was cooked to perfection, being super moist, flakey, while the skin was nice and crispy with just a light hint of salt for added flavor. Easy 5 SPAM Musubi for CR’nR’s Supreme Salmon. If you a salmon fan, ORDER THIS DISH. It’ll change your life. It changed mine. lol

Diner A wasn’t so much a fan of their Teriyaki Chicken, noting that they didn’t marinade the chicken in the teri’ sauce, but cooked it first, then added the teriyaki after the fact…

Surprisingly “Mr. Teriyaki Man” himself, Diner E had no problem with it and gave it a 3. I think I would have enjoyed it too, as, other than Kalbi, for the most part I don’t like my meats saturated in marinade. Yet to each their own, so whatevahz.

As for da’ odda’ stuffs (the other stuff), the california roll that came with my meal was equally delicious, with great quality rice being use that was cooked to sushi rice perfection, while the cucumber and imitation crab was in perfect balance of quantity, while being very fresh-tasting. Solid 4 for that.

Not stopping there, my $11 bargain of a meal also included a chicken wing and shumai that were both deep-fried to golden brown delicious perfection, with the chicken wing being super moist and seasoned just right. The two small shumai were stuffed with chopped shrimp and some other “stuff” and was absolutely delicious as well.  The miso soup had all the right flavors in place and kept simple as it should with just green onions and tofu in it.  The salad was great as well, being more like a slaw, with an interesting dressing that was sort of citrus-ee. Rice on the side was cooked perfect, although I barely touched it, as the Cali’ Rolls were already enough starch for me.

Again, that Supreme Salmon with Garlic Butter Soy Sauce rocked my world. Oh, it rocked my world. The sushi rolls were amazing. Everything was just about perfect, including the service.

California Rock ‘N Sushi – Miso Butterfish

Rounding up the scores, Diner “Birthday Girl” AC and Diner “Balut is my middle name” C both give their Tempura Combo with Miso Butterfish plate 4 SPAM Musubi, while Diner AC gives the Tamanaha Tartare Roll an incredibly amazingly ono-awesome-licious 5 SPAM Musubi. Diner “Bathes in Teri’ Sauce” A gives his Super Lunch Combo plate 2 SPAM Musubi, while Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E gives his Tempura Combo with Teriyaki Chicken plate 3 SPAM Musubi. Finally yours truly is going to have to go 5 SPAM Musubi on the Supreme Salmon Combo plate. That salmon hit the ball out of the park, and smashed through the windshield of a brand new Bugatti Veyron sitting in the parking lot when it landed. lol

The great food, value and service all contribute to giving California Rock ‘N Sushi a rock ‘n rollin’ thumbs-up of approval. Highly recommended!

California Rock ‘N Sushi
Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
404 Ward Avenue (across Sports Authority & Ross)
Honolulu, Hawaii  96814

Tel. (808) 597-8000

Business hours:
Monday thru Friday
Lunch 11am to 2pm, Dinner 5pm to 10pm
Friday and Saturday
5pm to 11pm
5pm to 9pm

Takeout Menu pdf download

The Tasty Island rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related links:
Rock ‘n Sushi Rolls up unique fare – Honolulu Star Bulletin
California Rock ‘N Sushi – Yelp user reviews

P.S. For dessert, we picked up these Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Cupcakes from Cold Stone Creamery at the Ward Entertainment Center complex…

How was it? Very good. Normally I’m not one for cookies in my ice cream (too rich), but I do love me a good Oreo, and the Oreo cookie bits mixed in the vanilla ice cream was kinda’ nice. So was the hard chocolate “cup” it’s served in, which gave it an Eskimo Pie-like characteristic. I’ll give this 3 SPAM Musubi.

Finally, on my way home from work yesterday I stopped by “Kaisers” (Ala Wai Boat harbor beachfront) and snapped this shot of Waikiki beach…


13 thoughts on “Kaka'ako Eats: California Beach Rock 'N Sushi

  1. Back to your regular food entry. That Crunchy Roll look mighty good to me I think will order on the weekend around there. Could go for some miso soup also. I am now growing my own roma tomatos for fried green tomatos. They pretty fast to grow

  2. Now back to regular food entry. That Crunchy Roll look good I think of ordering that on the weekend when I head there. Could go for some miso soup too. It lot of fun that Balut Entry How about frog legs, brains or snais but not that interesting enough I guess. Even I can’t eat durian yet for the smell so strong.

  3. Thanks for balancing the balut post with this. Food looks good but whats up with that location…keeps changing restaurant concepts. How many birthdays a year does each co-worker celebrate? Seems like some of them are celebrating couple times a year by the look of your b-day posts.

  4. Since you mentioned it…


    (Started by a famous ramen chef in Japan, and I think it’s actually pretty good but very non traditional…)

    As a random aside, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and at least twice we ended up going to the same place on the same day, just at different times…(Board of Water Supply cafeteria and more recently, Nico’s…)…not noteworthy in and of itself except for the fact that I don’t live in Honolulu anymore 🙂

  5. Pomai, I know it not serve in states ( Thank Goodness) but in Japan they serve Sakura Sashimi not sure Andrew Z. ate it. The Tamanaha Tartar roll look so good will head there for it.

  6. Michael, can you explain more in detail what this ‘Sakura Sashimi’ is? I couldn’t find it.
    Raph’, glad you enjoyed and appreciated the beach shot. I like to throw in stuff like that every now and then to give some sense of place to the foods featured here.
    Lee, oh brother, I just knew it! I knew they’d do it. And as expected, they have what they call the ‘Californian’, described as “with over 30 garden fresh vegetables in house-made chicken broth”, which sounds like CPK in a bowl. lol The worst was in the film ‘Ramen Girl’, where Abbey’s “signature” ramen had tomatoes and corn in it. I shudder just thinking about it! Grrrrrrhhh.
    I need to get back to Nico’s and try that Marlin Burger that was featured on Triple D. BWS Cafeteria is simply good home-cooked style comfort food at great prices, but what I actually really like about that place is the “ambiance”. Something so relaxing about the that rooftop cafeteria right across the state capitol. I think it’s the tradewinds that blow through.
    Kobi, I was kinda’ hoping the Drumsticks Ice Cream Cone at the end of the write-up would provide that “balance”. lol
    As for the restaurant changing concepts, California Beach Rock ‘N Sushi remained the same for YEARS. It’s their nextdoor neighbor tenant, Dixie Grill who changed their concept under the same ownership to Tio’s Garage, an Ameri-Mex restaurant, which didn’t last long. After that, new owners took over to what it is now, which is Kanpai Bar and Grill (which I hear is pretty good). I believe California Rock ‘N Sushi is over 13 years old now, which is amazing, especially considering the location.
    As for frequency of birthdays, well, remember, there’s five of us in our group, so that explains the repetition. One thing we don’t like to repeat is going to the same  place. Our birthday lunch creed is to pick some place new every time. The only exception we made was Los Chaparros, where we paid a repeat birthday visit, after having been served such great Mexican food the first time around.
    Aaron, I seen Durian in Honolulu Chinatown. Thankfully it wasn’t cut open, as I’m not in any rush to smell it, let alone taste it. As for Frogs Legs, Michel’s at the Colony Surf serves it, crispy fried with garlic-lemon crust and caper-roasted garlic aioli. Kelike’s dad ordered that and said he enjoyed it. I’ll have to give it a try. I have tried Michel’s Escargot Bourgogne (snails),which were FANTASTIC! 5 SPAM Musubi certified!

  7. Pomai,

    This Sakura Sashimi is known by another name as HORSE MEAT! Yes, still sold in certain part of Japan for it lean yet tender which I will not eat it for I love horses also to ride on.

    In Northern China they serve donkey meat and raise them for food .

  8. Pomai, I heard of canned silkworm in Korea . In Mexico they eat lizard the big one. On Paula Deen show she said her sons love deep fried aligators and Texas they eat rattlesnakes.

  9. You had me at the crunchy crab roll but did me in with the Oreo ice cream cupcakes! Looks like a perfect meal in my book!

  10. hawaiiangirl, on that note, I’m seriously contemplating doing more dessert posts here, which I’m beginning to appreciate more than I have in the past. I’m all about savory, yet, like anyone else, I do have a “soft spot” for sweets. We’ll see!
    Kelike, I’m still on the fence on trying worms and lizards. But gosh darned it, Andrew Z sure makes it sound easy! Well, for worms and bugs, anyway. Not so much for lizards (reptiles), where he had a hard time with the taste of fire-roasted Iguana.
    Michael, oh, that’s what it is. Yikes. I’ll pass on ‘Sakura Sashimi’.
    Really though, Philosophy 101 plays hard on this subject.
    I queried Google whether someone has ever done a thesis on Balut, where I came across this rather interesting link.

  11. i’m another one of those who have been reading this blog for years, and finally am commenting. i’m addicted to this blog. well, the owner of this place comes into my work daily, so i told him about this rewiew and i gave him your website to check it out. thanks for everything, keep up the great work!


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