1881 S Kihei Rd
Kihei, HI 96753
Why did we dine here? – Sansei Hawaii is a well known Japanese Seafood Restaurant with locations at Kihei and Kapalua, Maui, Oahu, and the big Island – Hawaii.
Our last visit was in March 2016. We ate at the Kapalua location in late 2021 during the Pandemic.
The Kihei location is located in the same shopping center as Foodland. (A great place for Ahi!) We just happened to be buying groceries at Foodland, and saw a huge line at Sansei for Sunday/Monday 50% off Sushi, Appetizers & Entrees ordered before 530pm. They let folks in around 4:45pm, so you need to line up an hour early. Someday after restrictions lift, late happy hour may return.
The Kapalua location is near the Ritz Carlton hotel.
Luckily we stood in line and were the last let in for discount madness. The line starts before 4 pm for the 445pm opening. We recommend bringing a folding chair to sit on.
Chef Owner Dave Kodama is the man behind this contemporary sushi and innovative fusion seafood.
Insider Tip – Definitely go for 50% off Early bird.
Cuisine – Contemporary Japanese
Location – Kihei, Maui
Opened – 2002
Service – Our server at Sansei was great. She guided us to the popular signature must orders and came by ever so often. The aloha spirit even allowed her to help suggested other places to eat at that were not touristy.
Food just starts rolling out during the early bird period. Forget about pacing. There are so many orders placed, you just have to hang loose. Things settle down after the crazy first hour. You are on vacation right?
Verdict – Sansei impressed us with some excellent food. Clearly there are some clinkers, so skill in ordering is a must. Use our experience as a guide. Come for Early Bird, it saved us over $80. Maui is an expensive Island, meals like this one will save you a ton.
If you time it right, you can see the sunset when your meal is done. Most of the regulars finish are out of the restaurant by 6pm. The beach is just across the street. Life is tough in paradise!
50% off Sushi & Appetizers Sunday through Monday 10pm – 1am is on hold due to the Pandemic. 25% off Sushi, Appetizers, Entrees Tuesday through Saturday if you order by 6pm.
Is this restaurant worth a 5 minute drive? Yes. 30 minute? Yes. 1 Hour? Maybe.
Sansei Signature Dishes – Panko Crusted Ahi Roll, Matsushisa Style Miso Butterfish, Shichimi Seared Salmon & Tiger Prawn, Spider Roll, Submarine Roll. All are clearly marked on the menu.
Sansei’s Menu has a wide range of items from Sushi rolls, Many appetizers and salads, 3 noodle dishes, Entrees, and several desserts. Vegetarians have several dishes here.
Sansei Food Picks:
Kai Tai cocktail ($15) is their spin on a Mai Tai. It is balanced, not too sweet, and worthy. 8.5/10
Lychee Martini ($12) Kai Lychee Vodka & Liqueur served with lychee sorbet balls and a splash of POG is a nice sweet cocktail with hidden strength. The balls of sorbet appear to look like lychee fruit.
Mango Martini ($12) Absolut Vodka and mango made for a fruity, hidden alcohol potent combination. No early bird alcohol discount though.
Upcountry Salad of Organic Kula Greens ($10) With choice of umeboshi (Japanese plum), soy-sesame-onion or balsamic vinaigrette. Lots of local greens and a lite dressing made for a decent salad. A good start before all the seafood. 8/10
Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll ($17) Sashimi grade Hawaiian ahi, arugula and spinach wrapped into a sushi roll, panko-crusted, flash-fried and served with Sansei’s mild soy wasabi butter sauce. A signature dish and must get. Wow this is great. Strong flavor profile, crunchy texture, and a stellar sauce all over this very fresh ahi. 8.5/10
Sansei’s Mango Crab Salad Handroll ($10.25) Ripe mango, asian crab salad, fresh local greens & crunchy peanuts, wrapped in mamenori with sweet Thai chili vinaigrette. With no mayo, add $3. A sweet fruity roll with real crab and a slight kick.
Matsuhisa Style Miso Butterfish ($17.25) Tender butterfish marinated and roasted in sake and sweet miso. A signature dish and MUST get. Tender succulent fish. We were ready to order another one! A similar dish could cost double in the San Francisco Area. When you factor in the 50% off early bird discount… You have a steal.
Seared Foie Gras Nigiri Sushi ($20.25 – No discounts) Lightly seared and served with caramelized sweet Maui onions, ripe mango and topped with a rich unagi glaze drizzle. Yes we order it EVERY chance we get. Banning it in California just caused revenue to go elsewhere. 2 huge pieces of rich, fatty, smooth Top Notch foie. OMG it was darn smooth and good. Not on the menu in 2021.
DK’s Crab Ramen Noodles ($21) With black truffle butter homemade dashi, topped with tempura shrimp. Wow, another killer dish. Rich strong crabby broth along with some tender noodles. Order this instead of the normal Sansei Ramen. Very filling though. 8/10
Japanese Udon Noodles ($10.95) With fresh julienne vegetables and roast pork in homemade dashi, topped with tempura shrimp. A solid noodle dish. Not as good as the Crab Ramen, but a good broth and tough meat. Still worth ordering if you like udon.
Sansei’s Seafood Pasta ($25.95) Black Tiger Prawns, sweet Ocean Scallops and Local Vegetables wok-tossed with Chinese Chow Funn Noodles in spicy Black Bean Chili Butter was recommended by the waitress. Definitely on the heavier side but full of good Asian style seafood. We would rate this as a filler item to save money from ordering more sushi.
Roasted Japanese Eggplant ($9) With a slightly sweet miso-sake sauce hit the mark. It surprised us how well this dish was cooked. Very rare it is prepared like this. 8/10
Sashimi Trio ($18.25) includes Hawaiian Ahi Tuna, Hamachi, and Atlantic Salmon. What is with Salmon from halfway around the globe? The tuna was soft and tender. The hamachi was also quite good.
Salmon (Fresh) – Sake Sashimi ($13.95) was fresh, looked good, and offered good quantity. Probably not local! Frankly the other dishes above transcend most Japanese restaurants in the San Francisco area. The fish though, is just about on par.
Hamachi Sashimi or Pacific yellowtail ($15.95) was also fresh and worthy, especially if you come from an area with weak offerings. Why they include Salmon from the mainland is a mystery.
California Roll ($13) Real Crab only, avocado and cucumber was just slightly above average. 8/10
Wok Tossed Upcountry Vegetables ($10) in spicy Asian Black Bean chili butter sauce was a heavy handed dish. A lighter gravy would be nice. We skipped the sauce in 2021. 8/10
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Maui Style Teriyaki Beef ($11.75) was a large dish but fair in terms of quality. Order it here, only if you are a carnivore that hates seafood.
Shrimp – Ebi Sushi ($5.95) was just average.
Crab – Kani Sushi ($7.95) included lots of fresh crab. Also believed not to be local.
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Miso Soup ($4) with Tofu, Wakame and Green onions was just too darn salty.
Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms ($7.95) With tangy soy-ponzu was too greasy.
Grilled Miso-yaki Chicken ($8.95) Sweet miso and sake marinated boneless chicken thighs, grilled, sliced and served over Napa cabbage. A reasonable dish, but not spectacular.
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