Chef DK Kodama

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | July 28th, 2010 | Chef Interviews

Almost two years ago, I spent a fabulous two weeks on the islands of Kauai and Maui.  I had the great fortune of enjoying many wonderful meals at many different restaurants.  Of course, two weeks at two islands isn’t nearly enough time to sample even a fraction of the culinary delights offered.  One of the fabulous restaurants that my husband and I missed is Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar.  However, after conducting the Best Restaurant in the Pacific Hawaii Region poll, I was able to interview Chef DK Kodoma, who is also the owner of this restaurant, and learn about the fabulous dining destination that I missed.

TT: What makes Sansei different?

DK: Our staff, our customers, and our sincere desire to make sure every single person who comes in to our restaurants has FUN as well as a great dining experience. We’re really fortunate to have a solid base of loyal, local customers. We have extensive menus, so we know we can please everyone at every table – traditional, classic sushi, New Wave sushi, contemporary Japanese dishes, Pacific-Rim inspired dishes, even steak. We encourage sharing, so each table can taste a wide variety of menu items.

TT: What do you like about being a chef in Hawaii? What do you dislike?

DK: We have amazing ingredients – and we have them all year ‘round. The best fresh fish (The ahi is the best in the world!), great local produce, delicious locally-raised beef, every ingredient is fantastic here. The only challenge is being out in the middle of the Pacific – sometimes it takes a long time for culinary trends to reach us.

TT: What is your favorite dish on the menu at Sansei?

DK: I love variety. That’s why I love our menu.  Some nights I feel like sushi, some nights I feel like steak, some nights I feel like fresh fish or maybe a salad. Whatever you feel like eating, you can find on our menu.

TT: I noticed the “New Looks” section on your menu.  How often do you change your menu?

DK: We have a lot of Sansei classic, award-winners, signature items on our menu and I think our regular customers would revolt if we ever tried to take them off – haha! But we definitely try to stay “current” and we give our chefs and sushi chefs a lot of freedom with specials. We also do a lot of events for which we create new dishes. Lot of those dishes – along with our chefs’ specials – often make it onto the menu.

TT: You have a loyal base of patrons.  What is it about your restaurant that you believe makes that so?

DK: We do our best to ensure that everyone has FUN when they come to Sansei. And we have a feeling of family among all our staff that we show our customers every night. Then they become family, too!

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