Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Aloha Sushi Pensacola

Tucked in between two barber shops in the kind of oddly eclectic strip mall that can be found all over Honolulu sits a tiny specimen of the Aloha Sushi franchise. From the outside it looks like any of the dozens of such places that dot the state of Hawaii. Walk inside, and it is far less imposing than any other Aloha Sushi I have visited. There is no fountain soda machine, no stack of pre-made sushi. The seating is minimal and the decor as austere as a monk's cell. Plastic sushi samples fill a small glass case and poorly spelled picture menus paper the wall behind the counter. A curtain separates the kitchen from the rest of the shop.

The place is family-run. Most days the proprietor--a polite middle-aged gentleman--or his daughter staff the front counter. A small female child can frequently be seen lurking under the table or behind the counter. Last time I was in she was playing happily inside an otherwise empty cardboard box.

Several things set this Aloha Sushi apart from the rest. First and foremost, it is in MY neighborhood. It's MY place--they know me there, and the words "one kanpyo maki, one shinko maki, one ume maki (no cucumber)" no longer need to be spoken. I just walk in and my order is called up. I have eaten at Aloha Sushi Pensacola for my Christmas and New Years dinners for two years in a row. It has become a place of comfort and safety for me. The sushi is always the same, and can be relied upon to satisfy.

Another special feature of this particular shop is that they deliver. If I'm feeling lazy, or when I stay home sick, I call them up, make my order, and it is delivered--usually in less than 30 minutes! That's service.

I always order the same thing--kanpyo, shinko, ume. I also buy a package of that Korean roasted nori. My sushi eating technique is very strange--I admit it. I have one Hawaii-born friend who has actually sneered at my style. What I like to do is take each little maki roll and eat it in two bites, including a little bit of the crispy nori with each bite. I can't eat it any other way! This is weird. It's so good, though!

Maybe one of these days I'll walk in and feel like ordering something else, but right now I am content to order the same old thing and eat it the same old way. Aloha Sushi Pensacola represents consistency, quality, and comfort--a home away from home.

Aloha Sushi Pensacola
1021 Pensacola St.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
(808) 591-0050

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