Places to Eat: Sansei, Waikoloa Hawaii

Have you ever gone out to a new restaurant, expecting a good meal, only to find the food disappointing and overpriced?  This happens to me a lot.  I love exploring new places and discovering new dishes, but every now and then a sad meal just leaves me wishing I'd stayed in and ordered pizza.  To help you avoid (or at least minimize) such fate, I've decided to start sharing my thoughts on the places I try.  I'm not a professional chef or a professional writer, but I love eating and I love taking pictures of food.  And feel free to share your thoughts on great and not-so-great places to eat.  I love new suggestions!

While in Hawaii, we tried a couple of different places.  These restaurants lured us in with promises of delicious fresh seafood and "authentic" Hawaii ambiance.  Unfortunately, many of them failed to deliver.  One, however, far exceeded our expectations.  Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar was by far the best dining experience of the trip.  Sansei offers a "sample menu" for two, but this could easily have fed three (or even four light eaters).  We sampled eight different dishes, though the portions were definitely not "sample" sized.  Every thing from the mango crab salad roll to the calamari with kochujang vinaigrette left us anxiously waiting for the next dish.  The sample menu for two was a little pricey ($80 for two people) but it was well worth it considering both the quality and quantity of food.  Sansei has locations in Maui and Oahu as well, but I've only eaten at the Big Island location.  If you're ever in the area, definitely check it out!

About halfway through the meal I realized I was so captivated by the food that I forgot to take pictures. Here are a few of the last four dishes we had (there were eight total).

Panko crusted ahi sashimi roll with spinach and arugula and soy wasabi butter sauce (there were eight pieces total but I didn't think about photos until the last one was left!):

Asian shrimp cake with Chinese noodles and ginger lime chili butter:

Seared butterfish (soaked in sweet miso for three days - this was my favorite!):

Lobster and blue crab ravioli with truffled shitake mushroom sauce:

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