While visiting family in Hawaii, I decided I wanted to get a nice seafood dinner. I mean, we’re on an island surrounded by the sea so there must be good fish to be had.
Growing up, Nimitz Highway was always a freeway that ran through the industrial area on the southern part of Oahu. Over the years, several retail outlets have opened up in the area, including a Lowe’s. In a waterfront development near the working piers – Pier 38 to be precise – there are a few restaurants playing with the ocean theme.
I ate with my family last night at one of them: Uncle’s Fish Market & Grill. In Hawaii, it’s common to call people “uncle” or “auntie” when trying to be familial. So this place had a local, family feel but with a slight grass-shack feel, although it didn’t scream Waikiki.
It was a festive vibe, but not as crowded as Nico’s Pier 38, a popular bar and restaurant across the way. Still, Uncle’s looks like a fun place to bring the family or hang out with friends at tiki-like bar.
The menu is primarily seafood, but you get a few meat dishes like sirloin steak or chicken. Most of my family ordered fish dishes, and the trend seemed to be that the kitchen overcooked the filets because both my nephew and Mom had the same comment about their dishes (he had the original garlic ahi, $19.95, and she had the mahimahi, $21.95).
My mom did like her starter of New England clam chowder ($4.95) and I liked the crab and avocado salad ($15.95), although the salad was primarily built on basic head lettuce. Still, the scoop of crab salad was surprisingly tasty (it was served with a standard Thousand Island dressing).
Seems like the best way to go when dining at a seafood place like Uncle’s is to do what I did – order the Sushi Bowl ($21.95), their version of a chirashizushi bowl of raw fish on top of a bowl of sushi rice. The rice had a balanced vinegar flavor although parts of it was a bit dry, but the fresh fish was enjoyable, like the ahi (including spicy tuna), hamachi and salmon. There was even a few slices of slice calamari prepared tempura style.
The Last Bite
Uncle’s Fish Market and Grill has a great family atmosphere with an upscale local fisherman’s motif, but the fish filets can be overcooked and covered in sauce and the dishes are on the pricey end. For fresh fish, stick with the sushi bowl.
Uncle’s Fish Market& Grill, 1135 N. Nimitz Hwy. (at Pier 38), Honolulu. PH: 808.275.0063. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (closed at 3 p.m. on Monday). Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.unclesfishmarket.com
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