Applying the Golden Rule to good eats
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In the Bible, the well-known excerpt from Luke 6:31 says, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” At Ahi & Vegetable, owner Sam Seo applies this Golden Rule to his menu, and says he won’t serve food to customers that he wouldn’t eat himself.
“If I cannot eat it, I cannot sell it,” he says. “Sometimes when you mix food with different sauces, you can’t really taste the freshness anymore, but I know and my workers know.”
Seo, who opened Ahi & Vegetable on Fort Street Mall 10 years ago, added a second location three months ago in newly renovated Kapalama Center at 1210 Dillingham Blvd. The new location features a family-friendly dine-in setting, plenty of parking and more space, which Seo says was important for the installation of a chilled cutting room.
“I always wanted to make my own cutting place, so that I can control quality and freshness,” he explains. “That’s why I invested some money in this backside of the restaurant.”
Seo moved to Hawaii from Korea in 1992 to learn English, and liked it so much here that he stayed. While in school, he worked a part-time job at the fish market delivering fish. He eventually became a wholesaler at the Honolulu Fish Auction at Pier 38, which he has been doing for more than 15 years, and decided to also open a restaurant because of his advantage to cut out the middle man and offer the freshest fish at an affordable price.
“I go to the auction every morning, buy the fish and bring it back to the restaurant,” he says. “I like fish. I eat it every day.”
Described as a Japanese-style restaurant specializing in fresh fish and sushi, Ahi & Vegetable has a menu of donburis (bowls), set meals, bentos, nigiri sushi, sashimi platters and more.
Among its most popular items are Spicy Ahi Bowl ($9), Udon ($6), and Ikura and Spicy Ahi Combo bowl ($11). A longtime best seller, the Spicy Ahi is made with AHI & Vegetable’s secret house-made spicy sauce, and the ikura comes from Canada.
New to the menu is Chirashi Donburi ($15, includes miso soup), a very filling rice bowl topped with thick slices of tuna, salmon and hamachi, as well as ika, ebi, tamago, ikura, masago, ginger and choy sum.
For sushi, the Sushi Special bento ($11, includes miso soup) is a really good deal, consisting of two pieces of ahi, two pieces of salmon, one-piece hamachi, one-piece ika, one-piece ebi and one-piece tamago.
“For ahi (tuna), you want the color to be red,” notes Seo. “If it’s old and not fresh, there’s a little bit of a stinky smell. If it’s fresh, it should have a nice taste and texture — little bit chewy, almost like mochi.”
For both locations, you can BYOB (bring your own beer), with no corkage fee. They also offer free delivery (from Kahala to the Airport) with a minimum of 10 orders.
“The main thing for me is quality,” adds Seo. “We don’t sell anything frozen.”
Ahi & Vegetable
1210 Dillingham Blvd.
Open daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Fort Street Mall
1126 Fort St. Mall
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.