We were passing through Haleiwa and feeling hungry, so we pulled up the HappyCow app and decided to try Banzai Sushi. A first glance at the menu had us feeling good about our choice: items were clearly marked vegetarian and vegan. But as we looked closer, it didn't make sense why some of the items marked vegetarian were not also marked vegan (like seaweed salad, for example). So we asked the server; she checked with the chef and came back to say the reason those items are not marked vegan is because they contain either FISH FLAKES or FISH SAUCE. But she assured me that the items marked vegan do not contain any fish. I kindly told her that items with fish in them are not vegetarian either, and she just smiled and kind of giggled.
So we chose two items that were marked vegan on the menu: an avocado roll and the tofu papaya salad roll. Well, our avocado roll had a few orange fish eggs clinging to it, which we understood was just kitchen cross-contamination, so we brushed them off and did our best to enjoy the roll. Then the salad roll comes out, plated beautifully in a puddle of sweet and sour dressing. One smell of the dressing and it was obvious that it contained FISH SAUCE.
So we asked our server if it contains fish sauce because it sure smells like it. She took the plate away and went to ask the chef. She came back and said, "The chef says it does not contain fish sauce, but I asked another server and she's pretty sure it does contain fish sauce." So we just asked for our bill and when she brought it, she told us she did us the favor of removing the salad roll from the bill. Um, yeah, it was inedible for us; we should not pay for it, and you should remove it from the bill.
So we got on Yelp, jumped back in the car, and drove a few miles down the road to Wahiawa, where we had better luck at Saigon Noodle House 3. They have a separate vegan menu and the owner/chef spoke to us directly and reassured us she prepared the items strictly vegan. The food was good and the portions huge! So if you're looking for a veg place near Haleiwa, I recommend driving 15 minutes or so to Wahiawa.
So here's the take away for Banzai Sushi Bar: there seems to be fish sauce or fish flakes hiding in everything they serve here and the items marked vegetarian and vegan on their menu are definitely NOT vegetarian or vegan.
Cons: Veg items contain fish flakes/sauce, Veg items are not veg, Clueless about meaning of vegetarian