Kaua‘i Sushi Station crowned best in nation – for the second year in a row

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Couple James Jithitikunchai and Haru Assawaprayukul make the best sushi in the nation, according to Yelp. Taken July 3, 2024. Photo Credit: Scott Yunker/Kaua‘i Now

The Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i – located some 2,500 miles from the United States mainland – is home to the best sushi in the nation.

That’s according to popular business review website Yelp, which recently placed Kaua‘i Sushi Station at the summit of its “Top 100 Sushi Spots” of 2024.

Kaua‘i Sushi Station, a food truck in Līhu‘e on the East Side of the Garden Isle, also took first place in Yelp’s 2023 list.

“We were so excited. We’re proud because we work so hard,” said owner and chef James Jithitikunchai. “We make with our heart … We’re caring about our food.”


Jithitikunchai – formerly a sushi chef at Japanese Grandma’s in Hanapēpē – opened for business four years ago in partnership with his wife Haru Assawaprayukul. Both were born in Bangkok but met in the U.S. while Jithitikunchai was making sushi at restaurants throughout Chicago.

“I like to make something beautiful,” Jithitikunchai said of his approach in the kitchen. “Sushi is an art food, you know?”

Presentation is indeed a key contributor to Kaua‘i Sushi Station’s popularity. While the food truck occupies an unassuming location – a grassy lot on Ulu Maika Street facing the island’s only Costco gas station – its dishes feature plating worthy of a fine dining establishment. Already meticulously assembled offerings, which include rolls, nigiri, sashimi and more, are often further decorated with vibrant edible flowers.

These stunning creations have cultivated a bevy of devoted followers including Mayor Derek Kawakami, who can be seen beaming in several posts on Kaua‘i Sushi Station’s Instagram page.


But looks aren’t everything, of course. Great taste has earned Kaua‘i Sushi Station top marks from Yelp reviewers for two years running.

Jithitikunchai and Assawaprayukul claim to prize high-quality ingredients above all else. While they purchase fresh-caught ‘ahi (yellowfin tuna) from Kaua‘i fishermen, much of their pantry is stocked with products and seafood imported from sushi’s birthplace of Japan: The couple regularly visits Nāwiliwili Harbor to collect uni (sea urchin), ika (squid), otoro (the belly cut of bluefin tuna) and more.

  • Organic edible flowers top ornate platters of sushi. Photo Courtesy: Kaua‘i Sushi Station
  • A serving of nigiri at Kaua‘i Sushi Station. Photo Courtesy: Kaua‘i Sushi Station
  • A double rainbow graces the Kaua‘i Sushi Station food truck in Līhu‘e. Photo Courtesy: Kaua‘i Sushi Station

Premium soy sauce and tempura flour are also imported.

“Not around here Kikkoman,” Assawaprayukul said, adamantly disavowing what is arguably the most ubiquitous brand of soy sauce in the world.


“I pick the best one, even if it’s more expensive – but I have to use it,” Jithitikunchai added.

Jithitikunchai and Assawaprayukul employ up to seven people. Yet they still show up to work every day.

“If you go into a restaurant or any place that the owner works at, guaranteed, that place is going to have good food,” Assawaprayukul said.

The couple’s dedication to the artistry of sushi and a personal brand of hospitality appears paramount. Jithitikunchai frequently fields questions from loyal customers eager for a second location, but he has no plans to move or expand – even if doing so would generate greater profit.

“If I open another location, I don’t think I can control the quality of the food,” he explained. “The quality might go down … We try to keep this the best, as much as we can.”

Kaua‘i Sushi Station is open Thursday through Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Its most popular items include the Ginger Crazy Roll and the Godzilla Roll.

For more information visit the Kaua‘i Sushi Station website. You can also follow the business on Facebook and Instagram.

Scott Yunker
Scott Yunker is a journalist living on Kauaʻi. His work for community newspapers has earned him awards and inclusion in the 2020 anthology "Corona City: Voices from an Epicenter."
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