August 7th, 2012
Nadine Kam photos
Live abalone on the plate at Sushi Ii.
New at the wonderful Sushi Ii, in the Samsung Plaza, is a generous and decadent amuse bouche of fresh abalone.
When I dropped in to see what's new on his chalkboard, sushi chef/owner Garrett Wong asked me if I liked raw abalone, I said, "Sure!" I was thinking a few pieces of sashimi and wasn't paying much attention to the prep going on behind the counter.
So I was surprised when he presented a bowl of about a half dozen of the living, writhing mollusks. I thought a little about the possible foot action of the abalone as it slipped down my throat, then gamely took a bite of one of the crunchy creatures ... then another, noting the still wriggling half that remained.
Talk about omnivore's dilemma. Like most of us in a constant state of food denial in some form or other, I have no problem eating meat, seafood and poultry—especially poultry because I hate the neighborhood chickens who dig up my garden—but I don't want to do the killing myself, particularly if it's by my own teeth.
I don't like to boil lobsters or crabs, because I grew up crabbing almost every weekend and can still remember the sound of their clawing at the pot of boiling water over my mother's stove. Yet, I enjoyed visits to Kickin' Kajun and Raging Crab.
I think if society ever reached a point when the only conscionable way to eat meat is to personally kill an animal, as writer Michael Pollan attempted in his seminal book, we'd have a lot more lacto-ovo vegetarians.
After devouring the single abalone, I apologized to Wong, saying I was too squeamish to finish the rest, but I guess that's true of many people, so he's always prepared to cook them up, when the baby abalone become soft and tender and you can't stop at one.
Sushi Ii is toward the back of the Samsung Plaza, 655 Keeaumoku St., Suite 109. Call 942-5350.
Not long afterward, I was invited to the Aug. 3 grand opening of AirBuggy, a jogger stroller and infant shop at Waikiki Beach Walk, where second-floor neighbor Kaiwa catered the event, offering up more grilled Kona baby abalone, and other specialties:
Kaiwa's Mitsue Momoi with shrimp crostini.
Duck-wrapped asparagus and rare Washugyu beef.
Grilled garlic wagyu over bean sprouts.
Pipikaula, ahi and salmon poke.