Guide to Top 10 Ahi Dishes in Honolulu

Taketoshi Gibo of Take's Fish Market.

Photo: Olivier Koning

Sashimi platter from Nico's.

Photo: steve czerniak

Like other sushi bars, there’s a good deal of imported seafood in Goro Obara’s sushi case, but there’s none he revels in more than local ahi. Maguro-Ya, Obara’s restaurant in Kaimuki, translates literally as ahi Shop or Tuna Shop. Signature offerings feature raw, grilled and fried ahi in one teishoku, or set meal, and maguro iroiro, a sushi sampler consisting entirely of slices from four parts of the fish.

“People in Hawaii don’t know how lucky they are,” Obara says. “Even in Japan you don’t see maguro this fresh. There’s bluefin, of course, but it’s so expensive that people rarely get to eat it, and they mostly get it frozen. When Japanese customers come, I always have them try the akami of local maguro. One hundred percent say it’s oishii. The aroma of it, because it’s fresh … you never get that with frozen.”

Across town, Nico Chaize would agree. Since opening Nico’s Pier 38 in 2004, just yards from the fish auction where he or his staff buy fish daily for the restaurant’s haute plate lunches, Chaize has built up to a volume of 600 pounds of seafood a day, half of it ahi.

“Coming from Europe, we have good fish, but we don’t have Pacific fish like tuna and mahi,” he says. “You can fry them, steam them, grill them. There’s a lot to play with. That’s why I like Hawaii fish.”

Fried, Seared, Raw: The Best In Ahi

Maguro zukushi

It’s ahi three ways: sashimi, grilled and panko-fried and drizzled with tonkatsu sauce, in a full teishoku meal with miso soup, rice and side dishes.

Maguro-Ya, 3565 Waialae Ave., 732-3775

Maguro iroiro from Maguro-Ya.

Photo: Steve Czerniak

Maguro iroiro

“Iroiro” means various or different kinds. Echoing the theme of the restaurant, this eight-piece sushi plate celebrates Hawaii’s fresh raw ahi with a vertical tasting of four parts of the fish.

Maguro-Ya, 3565 Waialae Ave., 732-3775




Ahi sashimi salad with Matsuhisa dressing

Bigeye is the preferred ahi at Nobu, where it’s lightly seared and sliced, crowned with greens and bathed in a mustard-onion-shoyu dressing.

Nobu Waikiki, 2233 Helumoa Rd., 237-6999

Poke from Ono Seafood.

Photo: Steve Czerniak

Hawaiian-Style ahi poke

Poke will always be our favorite way to eat ahi—fresh, fatty cubes with crunchy limu, salt and raw onions, tossed to order with shoyu and a touch of chili.

Ono Seafood, 747 Kapahulu Ave., 732-4806

Panko-crusted ahi

Around since the ’90s and still a favorite: a deep-fried sushi roll wraps a generous block of raw ahi and arugula inside a crispy panko crust, served atop a creamy, buttery soy and wasabi sauce. 

Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Multiple locations

Tuna pizza

Ahi sashimi, red onion, grape tomatoes, olives, jalapenos and cilantro, all drizzled with anchovy mayo atop a crispy tortilla brushed with unagi tare sauce. A signature dish of the Iron Chef.

Morimoto Waikiki, 1775 Ala Moana Blvd., 943-5900

Garlic ahi nitsuke

 An uber-garlicky version of a favorite local Japanese fish preparation. Utage bathes chunks of ahi and tofu in a bold sugar-soy simmer that calls for a big bowl of rice.

Utage Restaurant, 1286 Kalani St., 843-8109

Negitoro from Home Bar and Grill.

Photo: Steve Czerniak


Crunchy bubu arare is a brilliant addition to this play on a familiar combination. Here, a green onion sauce pools around a tower of ahi cubes, thin-sliced onions and micro shiso.

Home Bar and Grill, 1683 Kalakaua Ave., 942-2237


Fried ahi belly

The fattiest part of the fish is dusted in flour and quickly fried. It comes out piping hot, crispy and juicy. Served with a fresh tomato salsa.

Nico’s Pier 38, 1133 Nimitz Highway, 540-1377


Furikake pan-seared ahi

Nico’s top seller features ahi fillets dredged in briny furikake that pops with sesame seeds. Served with a ginger garlic cilantro dip. Have it rare, well-done or any way you like.

Nico’s Pier 38, 1133 Nimitz Highway, 540-1377