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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Nico’s Upstairs

Restaurant Insider

May 26, 2019

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Anne Lee and Nico Chaize, chef and owner of Nico’s Upstairs, dive in to a meal at the new restaurant.

ANNE LEE speaks with NICO CHAIZE

As a favorite among both kamaaina and visitors, Nico’s Pier 38 has built a superb reputation of offering some of the freshest seafood, in a number of ways that appeal to an array of palates — from simple preparations to extravagant creations. And because of this award-winning cuisine, Nico’s continues to take its bright future upward, literally.

Enter Nico’s Upstairs, which, you guessed it, is perched just above Nico’s Pier 38. The spacious and inviting dining room offers a picturesque hangout with panel windows on the restaurant’s makai wall that overlook the pristine Pacific Ocean and harbor.

The cuisine at Nico’s Upstairs is both beautifully and tastefully prepared with a little more of an upscale feel than its downstairs counterpart — but at the same great prices and with the same fresh options from the fish auction next door.

“Harbor” Misoyaki Chilean Seabass ($39)

“We specialize in fresh seafood. Our menu is designed by myself and my chefs. I am very hands-on, on every recipe on the menu. Then, every special we offer, I am hands-off and my chef creates those,” shares chef and owner of all Nico’s restaurants Nico Chaize. “Overall, high-grade, high-quality seafood options are what we specialize in at Nico’s Upstairs.

“This is a very exciting project and is a dream come true for me. I want to take care of hardworking people, like the fishermen and all the workers that helped us become who we are today.”

With tempting selections like the Poisson Cru and even a rib-eye steak dinner, Chaize takes us for a dive to explore more of what the new restaurant has to offer.

AL: What are some specialties Nico’s Upstairs offers?

NC: There is now a brunch buffet on Sundays for $35 per person. The menu of it is a little different every week, but it has been really popular among our customers.

We have live music five nights a week, Tuesday-Sunday (times vary), because we want to give our customers the live music and dinner experience. We have very popular artists, you can always see the music program and scheduled line up of entertainers at nicosupstairs.com.

AL: It seems your Nico’s brand has a lot of momentum going, what do you have in store for Nico’s Upstairs? NC: We opened about three months ago and are still in the growing process, but we want to give our clientele what they want, so we do have plans for future events, like sushi night and martini night at the bar.

We also will soon be starting a chef’s-corner dinner — it’s like a surprise meal — where the chef prepares the courses and the guests are served what the chef chooses to serve for that evening. It’s a fun experience that people should try out because it can’t be found in much places.

AL: What are some of the most popular dishes?

NC: Some favorite options for dinner are the rib-eye and “Harbor” Misoyaki Chilean Seabass ($39). Then, our most popular appetizer is the Poisson Cru ($14). The cru is a Tahitian dish made of fresh marlin, marinated in coconut milk, lime juice and onions. This is a very light and fresh dish.

Rave reviews are also found in our escargot, onion soup, steaks and king salmon.

AL: If you had to choose one thing to eat every day for an entire year, what would it be and why?

NC: Bread, cheese, butter and cured meats like salami. Get fresh baguettes from the store. Then, reheat them at 350 degrees for five minutes, and they are nice and crispy again. I have special French butter, and the salami and dried meats I get from France, as well.

Poisson Cru

Ingredients

• 8 ounces fresh cubed marlin
• 2 ounces cherry tomatoes
• 2 ounces diced seedless cucumber
• Juice of two limes
• Green onion, minced
• 1 cup chilled coconut milk
• Hawaiian salt
• Ground white pepper

Mix all ingredients together 10 minutes before serving

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