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 January 2018
Edit ModuleShow Tags



Here’s How Hawai‘i Responded on Social Media to the False Ballistic Missile Alert

Ward Warehouse

A false alarm caused by human error sent the entire state of Hawai‘i into panic mode.


Twitter is Going Nuts Over Barack Obama’s Backward Hat and Rubbah Slippahs


Vacation mode: Activate.


6 Things You Need to Know About Rat Lungworm Disease Before You Eat a Salad

Rat lungworm disease

Everyone’s talking about the recent disease outbreak affecting the Islands. Find out what it is, where it comes from and how you can prevent it.


Here’s How to Survive a Possible North Korea Nuclear Strike in Hawai‘i

North Korea

What you need to do according to the Hawai‘i State Department of Defense.


20 Great O‘ahu Hikes

Explore 20 great adventures that offer beautiful vistas, waterfalls and more.



Edit ModuleShow Tags