Head to the Nori Bar in Ward Village for hand rolls with quality ingredients and fresh seafood. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

There’s nothing wrong with kaiten sushi places like Genki and Kurukuru if you’re in the mood for a quick bite and familiar items. The food is standard but it’s missing the “oomph” factor that transports you to a realm of deliciousness. Fortunately, the new Nori Bar in Ward Village has a tasty solution to that problem.

Nori Bar opened on Nov. 30 and offers guests a unique dining experience with intimate counter seating and the opportunity to watch chefs prepare hand rolls only a few feet away.

The restaurant has 16 seats available and boasts a high-quality sushi experience. While the prices are steeper than most places, with each handroll ranging from $5-$15, the food is worth it and it makes for a great date night place if you’re looking to treat your partner or yourself.

Upon being seated, there is a small wooden plaque with a QR code that guests can use to view the menu and order. Guests can choose a group or individual tab which makes paying for the meal more convenient since dividing the tab and gratuity evenly can be a hassle.

The spicy ‘ahi roll at the Nori Bar goes for $6.5. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

Unlike your traditional sushi restaurant, you won’t find any nigiri, gunkan, or uramaki. Instead, you’ll be treated to an assortment of handrolls with fresh seafood, Tokyo Koshihikari rice, and crispy nori. The nori that the chefs use is imported from Japan and has the most satisfying crunch as you bite into it. 

My favorite menu item is the unagi (eel) roll. I’m a huge fan of unagi sauce, and the chef who made my roll slathered it on before using a culinary torch to add a nice char to the meat. Aside from the unagi, I ordered the spicy ahi, ume shiso, and maguro. The spicy ‘ahi and maguro were standard for a sushi place, but the taste of the ume shiso made me feel like I was actually in Japan. 

I was also impressed with the rice-to-fish ratio, which is well balanced and leaves you hungry for more. While I didn’t get to try the toro or Hokkaido uni roll, those items are on my list for my next visit.

Finding parking is one of the downsides. Nori Bar is located on the ground floor of the Koʻula building, which leaves guests with the option of parking at Ward East Village (with TJ MAXX), Ward Entertainment Center (with Dave & Busters), or at Ward Centre (with Maile’s Thai Bistro). The restaurant is within walking distance from each of those parking structures, though Ward Entertainment Center is the closest.

In addition to parking, I was surprised to find that the restroom is located outside of the restaurant. Hand wipes are provided if you want to clean your hands before eating, but I would rather wash my hands with soap and water.

Overall, the hand rolls are satisfying in both the taste and filling aspects. Paired with the revitalizing atmosphere and modern yet minimalistic decor, you’re bound to have a great experience.