Edit ModuleShow Tags

Here’s the Secret to Shopping Chinatown’s Markets Like a Chef

Chinatown’s marketplaces are overflowing with fresh, cheap fish, meat, fruits and vegetables. How to navigate it all? We tagged along with the duo behind three of Honolulu’s hottest gathering places as they shopped, to see how the pros do it.


Parrot fish chinatown



Veggie cart

We recently joined chef Jesse Cruz and business partner Dusty Grable on a morning market crawl through Chinatown. These days, Grable brings along his baby girl, who is scoping out the sights, sounds and smells from her front-facing carrier strapped to dad’s chest. 


SEE ALSO: Editor’s Page: Explore


The partners shop in various quantities for Livestock Tavern, Lucky Belly and The Tchin Tchin! Bar about three times a week, and their managers visit the markets daily. They can’t buy everything in Chinatown but do rely on it for many must-haves—Lucky Belly, for example, sources its bao buns from Hoong Wun Market (126 N. King St.). “It’s just cheaper and it’s fresher,” Cruz says. For local veggies, the two favor Chinatown Hawaiian Market (110 N. Hotel St.), for fish, 88 Fish (145 N. King St.).


When Lucky first opened, merchants met Grable and Cruz cautiously and wanted to be paid cash. Slowly, they built relationships. They advise home cooks to get to know the merchants, ask questions and try new foods.


The deals make their case: $1 for a fresh bunch of curly kale that easily costs three to four times more at a supermarket; Aloha Tofu, less than $3; fish that came off the boat within the past 24 hours, less than $6 a pound.


See a fish you want to try but don’t know much about? Ask the person behind the counter what to do. “They’ll clean it for you,” Grable explains. “Dungeness crab? They’ll even crack it for you.”


Read more about Chinatown in the February issue of HONOLULU Magazine, on newsstands now, or click here for the digital edition. You can also purchase the issue at shop.honolulumagazine.com.


Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to Honolulu

Honolulu Magazine September 2018
Edit ModuleShow Tags



Remembering Anthony Bourdain, Who Helped Share the Stories of Hawai‘i

Anthony Bourdain

The chef, writer and TV host filmed episodes of "No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown" in the Islands.


7 Iconic Sugar Mill Smokestacks That Still Stand Tall in Hawai‘i

Smokestacks Sugar Mill Ladd

The landmark smokestacks serve as daily reminders of these communities’ rich plantation history.


Hawaiʻi Summer 2018 Bon Dance Schedule

Obon Festival Moiliili

Obon season is here, time to dance!


The Ultimate “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” Drinking Game

Jurassic World

The filmed-in-Hawai‘i sequel to 2015’s summer blockbuster premieres June 22.

Edit ModuleShow Tags