Who knew that the road to happiness was paved with sushi, that it was adorned with contemporary zen decor, aligned with palm fronds, filled with cosmopolitan diversity, and permeated by sweet ginger, tangy edamame, crispy tempura and elegant wines.
Yes, the road to happiness begins on the 3rd floor of the Royal Hawaiian Center on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, diagonally above the newer Il Lupino Trattoria and Wine Bar.
Doraku, literally translated to “road to happiness”, is a Japanese fusion restaurant of high caliber.
Arguable serving the best sushi in Honolulu, Doraku is a trendy spot frequented by locals and happy hour fanatics, as well as Japanese cuisine loving tourists.
Their excellent sushi comes at a price and even during Happy Hour the bill adds up quickly, but it's worth the succulent tastes and delicate combinations.
My all time favorite is the Dragon Roll, though the simpler Happy Hour menu offers a perfectly adequate selection between the hours of 5:00pm and 7:00pm daily (except on Holidays).
The grilled oyster mushrooms, sweet and spicy edamame, lightly fried scampi, and mild but comforting clam sakamushi, add variety to the California and tuna roll basics. Plus, wine is $5 a glass, and the atmosphere - reminiscent of a classy mainland hotspot - is hard to beat in Hawaii.
The only downside is the inconsistent service, but sitting at the bar remedies the wait time.
For more information visit http://dorakusushi.com (their website is a journey in itself).
Parking in the Royal Hawaiian Center lot is free for the first hour with validation and is $1 per hour thereafter for up to 4 hours.
Zen tip: Try the green tea - from a local Chinatown store - it's mild but tasty, and leaves you one step further down the road to health and happiness.