Liliha Eats: Toyo Sushi

Like most other types of restaurants, each okazuya has a favorite dish that are must-haves by their regular customers, where those items usually sell out first. For example, St. Louis Delicatessen in Kaimuki and Toshi’s in Kalihi are known for their chow fun noodles and fried chicken, Nuuanu Okazuya on the outskirts of downtown Honolulu is known for their wide variety of fish cakes and kabocha (pumpkin), while Tanioka’s out in Waipahu and Masa & Joyce in Kaneohe are known for their fish patty (not the same as fish cake). Of course, amongst other favorites from each of those places as well.

Well, enter Toyo Sushi in the Liliha Square Shopping Center, where we’ve recently discovered what they should and will be known for from now on in the form of their relatively new creation, the Rice Krispies Tofu. Yes, Rice Krispies Tofu! As in the popular Kellogg’s breakfast cereal also known for doubling as a marshmallow-sweetened treat bar, where in this application it’s turned into a puffy, texture-rich and delicious batter coating a sliced block of firm Tofu. Check it out…

Toyo Sushi – Rice Krispies Tofu, with a drizzle of Teriyaki or Misoyaki sauce, shredded Nori and sliced green onions. $1.75 each

Ooooh…ahhhhhhhh. What a teaser, yet more on the Rice Krispies Tofu a little later. First let’s check out everything else they got goin’ on at Toyo Sushi…

Toyo Sushi – Cone and Maki Sushi

Sweet Potato Tempura and Nishime

Toyo Sushi – Shrimp Tempura, Kimpira Gobo and Nori Maki Sushi bento

Toyo ‘Sushi – Eggplant Stir-fry and Garlic Chicken

Toyo Sushi – Teri’ Beef, Shoyu Long Rice and Hasu Stir-fry

Toyo Sushi – Shoyu Chicken

Toyo Sushi – Chow Fun Noodles

Toyo Sushi – Fried Saimin Noodles

Toyo Sushi – Furikake and Ume Omusubi

Toyo Sushi – Fried Butterfish

Toyo Sushi  – Garlic Chicken

Toyo Sushi – Lemon Chicken

Toyo Sushi – Shrimp Tempura

Toyo Sushi – Fish Cake

Toyo Sushi – Hasu Stir-fry

Toyo Sushi – Kimpira Gobo

All the usual okazuya suspects are checked on the list here, and everything looks oishii.

Now let’s check out what we ordered on this visit, starting with Diner E’s plate

Toyo Sushi okazuya plate c/o Diner E: (clockwise from top left) Shrimp Tempura, Kimpira Gobo, Chow Fun, Teri’ Beef and Furikake Musubi

Along with that, he also got a 3-pack tray of the star attraction, the Rice Krispies Tofu…

Toyo Sushi – Rice Krispies Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce. $1.75 each

Yours truly went with this rather eclectic combo’ of mostly vegetarian plate…

Toyo Sushi okazuya plate c/o Diner P: (clockwise from top left) Shoyu Long Rice, Nishime, Fish Cake, Rice Krispies Tofu, Hasu and Bittermelon Stir-fry

Also a “side order” of Gobo Kinpira and Eggplant Stir-fry

Toyo Sushi – Kimpira Gobo and Eggplant Stir-fry

How is it? First let’s get back to that Rice Krispies Tofu…

It appears Tyson — the young fellah who works there who created this dish — simply takes a sliced block of firm tofu, dips it in a thick type of tempura batter, then gives it a roll in Rice Krispies cereal, then into the fryer, finally topping it off by drizzling it with a either teriyaki or misoyaki sauce and a sprinkling of finely-shredded nori and sliced green onion for the finishing touch.

With that, the toasty flavor of the puffed rice cereal after its deep-fried, along with the somewhat glutenous undercoating of the tempura batter keeping the Rice Krispies glued on adds such a a wonderful flavor and texture compliment and contrast to the subtle, sort of pasty hue on the palate that is tofu. Then you get that savory “umami” boost from the sweetened shoyu teri’ sauce soaking into the golden-tasty, texture-rich batter on top, along with an earthy element from the Nori and Green Onion, and POW! Just fantastic!

Of course, using breakfast cereal as a batter component for deep-fried foods isn’t anything new, as Corn Flakes and Rice Crispy Fried Chicken have already been done. Yet to apply this concept to tofu in an effort to jazz it up and make it more exciting than some folks may think of tofu in its plain, undressed state is simply brilliant! Solid 5 SPAM Musubi for Tyson/Toyo Sushi’s Rice Krispies Tofu. You gotta’ try it!

As for everything else, overall, excellent. Along with the Rice Krispies Tofu, I also really the Eggplant Stir-fry, as the shoyu-based seasoning they used was packed with flavor, making the eggplant almost taste “meaty”. The Nishime and bittermelon and hasu stir-fry was tasty as well.  Their fishcake (which is like a deep-fried Kamaboko) is also really good and comparable in taste to Nuuanu Okazuya’s fishcake surimi base in flavor and texture..

Toyo Sushi was founded about 30 years ago by Satoru Nakashima, where now it’s being run by his daughter Cindy, along with her assistant and Rice Krispies Tofu creator, Tyson. Where one last word on him, he told me he’s going to try experimenting with a Rice Krispies-battered fishcake, which I say GO FOR IT! That sounds like it’s gonna’ be another winner!

Summing it up, Toyo Sushi puts out a solid offering of okazuya dishes at reasonable prices (for the most part), with their new Rice Krispies Tofu arguably now THE star attraction here, and something you must try.It’s so oishii, onolicious, broke da’ mout’ winnahz!

Toyo Sushi
Liliha Square Shopping Center (on the Ewa side of  Times Supermarket around the corner on the side, facing Liliha Street)
1425 Liliha Street Suite 10
Honolulu, Hawaii  96817

Tel. (808) 537-4752

The Tasty Island rating:

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

Related links:
Grindz of the Day: Toyo Sushi – The Tasty Island

P.S. Several weekends ago while on my usual Saturday morning stroll around the KCC Farmers Market, I dropped by the Ono Pop booth to try yet another flavor…

…where I couldn’t resist trying that flavor you see there at the bottom right under “creamy vegan” in the form of that hard-to-find-now Hawaiian taro dessert, Kulolo!…

Kulolo Ono Pop. $3 (KCC Farmers’ Market price)

Kulolo Ono Pop

To give you some visual reference to what exactly Kulolo is, here’s the real deal, flown in from the beautiful garden isle of Kauai…

Kauai Kulolo sold at Young’s Fish Market

The ingredients for Kulolo is Hawaiian wetland taro, coconut and brown sugar. That’s it. Yet with that, you get this very exotic, quite gelatinous and sticky,  very pronounced taro/kinda’ poi flavored, coconut-ee treat that’s so, ono! I LOVE Kulolo. Especially more so now, being that’ it’s getting even harder to find. Specifically the excellent one as shown above from Kauai that’s sold at Young’s Fish Market in limited supply.

So anyway, back to the Kulolo Ono Pop, according the owner who sold it to me, he said they use all the same ingredients as real Kulolo. He also noted that, along with the Butter Mochi Ono Pop flavor, which I tried the last time, the Kulolo Ono Pop is difficult to make because of its sticky nature, making it a challenge to pull out of the mold.

Did the Kulolo Ono Pop taste like real Kulolo? Pretty much, except it was a little too creamy, and sort of “dough-ee” in flavor, while also kind of dry. I mean, no question, if you just gave this Kulolo Ono Pop to me blindly, without telling me what it was, I would immediately shoot back and declare “this tastes like Kulolo!”, with the main difference aside of it being in a frozen state (or thanks to that) is the Kulolo Ono Pop was more dry and “mealy”. Which is also the same impression I had of the Butter Mochi Ono Pop.

That said, I’ll give Ono Pop’s Kulolo flavor 2 SPAM Musubi.

Oh, in case you’re curious about Ono Pop’s ‘Lemon Peel’ flavor, the owner explained it as being a (water-based, not dairy) lemonade pop with bits of Lemon Peel (yes the popular Chinese “cracked seed” stuff) mixed in it. Sounds interesting!


6 thoughts on “Liliha Eats: Toyo Sushi

  1. Pomai, since I live on Liliha St. I do take it for granted the things Liliha St have to offer. Pizza Hut I do go to time to time and now this new Dim Sum Tea House on Liliha Sq. Lemon chicken well it taste better hot. I like chow fun and fried saimin. There two Korean Bar B Q in the neighborhood too.

  2. John, the Rice Krispies Tofu should be easy to duplicate at home. I think all it is, is tempura batter, then Rice Krispies. Or at least that should be close enough.

    Amy, speaking of Dim Sum, where on Oahu would you recommend as a GREAT Chinese Dim Sum restaurant? What I mean by “great”, is great taste at a great value. We’re looking for one. The one I have in mind is located in the Chinese Cultural Plaza, located near Hifumi.

  3. Pomai, I would go to Mandalay. You will dine in style there it chic looking and dim sum chefs well train from Hong Kong. They have special dim sums found in Hong Kong. For dining it great high class looking restaurant.

  4. Pomai, I would head to Mandalay for dim sum. It chic restaurant with dim sums chefs train in Hong Kong. You see and taste the different there. Dining is great place to take guests. Been to Asia a lot and found this one wonderful.

  5. Michael, thanks for the suggestion. So far our top choices for Dim Sum will either be Panda Cuisine on Koreamoku, Fook Lam in the Chinese Cultural Plaza or Royal Garden in the Ala Moana Hotel. Mei Sum has potential as well.

    May have to jun-ken-po on it.

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