Nico’s Fish Market on Pier 38 is a very casual sit down restaurant located at the end of pier 38, off the Nimitz Highway, near Honolulu’s Chinatown.

It’s in the midst of a collection of light industrial warehouses, including the location of the city’s daily fish auction, where the local fisherman sell their haul.

By very casual, I mean it’s bordering on a cafeteria, in the sense that you place your order and receive an order number. Then you wait for your number to be called, and pick up your order, which is provided in styrofoam takeout containers.  This, in spite of a full service bar, where the servers come to your table to take your alcohol order, and bring you your drink.  It seems odd to me that they have full alcohol service, but cafeteria service for the hot food.

But I digress.

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Since the restaurant is just steps away from the daily fish auction, they access to the freshest catch available.   It’s fresh local seafood, at reasonable prices.

Upon recommendation, I ordered the Furikake Pan Seared Ahi Tuna lunch platter, with green salad and rice.

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This is a think fillet of Ahi tuna, rolled in furikake (a common japanese seasoning consisting of sea salt, toasted sesame seeds, dried seaweed, and dried bonito flakes) and pan seared to a rare doneness, served with a lemon wedge and ginger, garlic cilantro dip, with white rice and a green salad.  I could have opted for brown rice, and I could have macaroni salad instead of the green salad (it’s a very hawaii thing, serving rice along side mac salad).  This was well prepared, and yummy.

I didn’t really taste much ginger in the dipping sauce, but I could certainly taste the garlic and cilantro.

My lunch companion ordered the fried Ahi belly, with brown rice and green salad.

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This is two generous portions of tuna belly, lightly dredged in seasoned flour, and deep-fried, then served with a tomato salsa.  This was really good, the tuna belly was rich and fatty, and when deep-fried, it melts in your mouth.

As mentioned, the food service is cafeteria style, so there’s not much to mention as far as service is concerned.  The ambiance/room is big and airy and clean, and with the bay doors open, it’s bright and breezy.

Nico's at Pier 38 on Urbanspoon

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