Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hawaii Fish Market Smackdown: Nico's vs. Uncle's

Out on Pier 38, just off the Nimitz Highway, are two well loved fish restaurants: Nico's and Uncle's. Literally across the paring lot from each other, hese places are very similar, offering a range of poke, fish & chips and fresh seafood dishes. Nico's seems to get more tourist love while Uncle's seems to be more favored by locals. I'd never tried either of these spots on previous visits, so I figured I would give both a try.

Nico's has a sort of sports bar vibe and a more limited menu. I had a special of furikake seared ahi which was very good, but the other dishes were mostly just okay. A fish chowder was fairly bland.

Uncle's fish dishes reminded me a lot of the old Sam Choy's on Kapahulu. I really enjoyed a dish of opakapaka in garlic cream sauce with crab meat. The fish was well cooked and the sauce was rich and full of garlic. We also tried the butterfish with miso dressing. The butterfish was cooked well but the miso dressing was overly sweet. We also enjoyed a poke trio, including a spicy poke and a kukui nut poke. And Uncle's does a great li hing mui maragarita - just the right amount sour and salty and not too sweet.

Overall, I liked Uncle's better than Nico's, but I didn't go nuts over either place as some people seem to, and both are fairly expensive, though fresh fish does tend to be pricy.

Nico's Pier 38
1133 North Nimitz Highway
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 540-1377

Uncle's Fish Market
1135 North Nimitz Highway
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 275-0063

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