Ahi is the Answer This New Year

Columns Ono, You Know

December 30, 2012

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

Speaking from a foodie standpoint, indulgence was the theme this Christmas. Seriously. From the prime rib, pasta, bread pudding and coconut haupia cake on Christmas Eve to more prime rib, turkey, mashed potatoes, brownies, chocolate cake and coco puffs on Christmas Day, my stomach can take no more. Talk about a major kanak attack.

So, while my tummy is still digesting these feasts, it’s time to get back on track and start the new year with a clean slate. Ahi is the answer, and the Islands’ most widely observed New Year’s tradition at that. Believed to bring luck, ahi is the prime indication that a new year is upon us.

With that, raise your chopsticks or forks, and let’s sing praises for ahi as we welcome 2013 at the following Ono, You Know establishments. Here’s to new beginnings and a fresh start on life! Really, there’s no better way to ring in the new year than with exquisite ahi.

Big City Diner

Take a bite out of the big city at Big City Diner, a longtime local establishment that has been serving Hawaii’s foodies since 1998. Here you’ll find ono local grinds and American mainstay favorites all within a classic diner atmosphere.

While it may be hard for me to say, in 2013, I will try to put a halt to my frequent burger indulgences and trade in those for all things ahi.

Executive chef Dennis Franks at Big City Diner Pearlridge reels in quite a catch when it comes to the restaurant’s Fresh Island Ahi (market price). Available for lunch and dinner, have your ahi pan-seared or flame-broiled topped with your choice of fresh tomato salsa, wasabi aioli or red ginger lime butter. The ahi lies on a bed of spinach and is accompanied by white or brown rice sprinkled with furikake.

“Everyone comes in looking for fresh fish,” Franks says. “Our ahi is always fresh and we usually get it from Tropic Fish at the fish auction.”

So, making the healthy choice is easier than you think, and it doesn’t have to be boring. Big City Diner’s Fresh Island Ahi is just as delicious as it is nutritious.

Big City Diner
Pearlridge (and various locations)
98-211 Pali Momi St.

Restaurant Epic

Stroll down Nuuanu Avenue in the heart of downtown Honolulu, and if you’re lucky enough you’ll stumble across Restaurant Epic. And this week, luck was all mine.

Co-owner and chef Brian Chan welcomed me to the eclectic eatery, which is … well, epic, of course! The ambiance is warm and inviting, and the food is what Chan describes as “unique.”

“Restaurant Epic opened in 2007, and it’s all about unique food at affordable prices. We take your common comfort foods and put our own twist on it,” he says.

The eatery appeals to all crowds with a variety of tastes. However, the majority of patrons can’t get enough of Restaurant Epic’s Mac and Cheese, Miso Marinated Wild Salmon and its slew of burger delights, be it your classic burger, spicy teriyaki burger or a one-of-a-kind grilled apple bacon and bleu cheese burger.

I love all of the above, yet with the new year just a couple days away, I must start fresh and opt for Seared Ahi with Togarashi.

Priced at $14, this lunch-only entree captured my appetite at first sight. Three ounces of seared fresh, local ahi seasoned with togarashi is served with fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, cherry tomatoes and egg with mixed greens brought to life with a zesty lemon vinaigrette.

“Seared Ahi with Togarashi is a popular item here,” Chan says. “We’re always busy for lunch and see a lot of the downtown business crowd. Happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday also is crowded.”

So, if you choose to eat clean or splurge a little, Restaurant Epic is the place to be. Care for a drink or two with your meal? Restaurant Epic’s full bar is at your service.

Restaurant Epic
1131 Nuuanu Ave.

Eggs ‘n Things

There’s no stopping Eggs ‘n Things when it comes to whipping up a breakfast of champions. Now, with three locations islandwide, it’s easier than ever to get your fix of Eggs ‘n Things favorites. I’ve been a fan of this renowned restaurant for years, but this was my first time to its newest location on Piikoi Street. The line was out the door, and once inside the place was full of hungry diners enjoying bite after bite of decadent omelets, pancakes, crepes and more. The energy throughout the restaurant was intoxicating, not to mention my breakfast: Furikake Ahi with salsa, scrambled egg whites and brown rice ($14.95).

“Our ahi steak comes in three styles: Simple Sauteed Ahi, Cajun Ahi or Furikake Ahi,” says Eggs ‘n Things general manager Michael Skedeleski, noting that you also can select your choice of starch, be it pancakes, rice or potatoes, and eggs cooked to your liking.

“We really cater this dish to the customer,” he adds. “For instance, you can have Cajun Ahi Steak with sunny side up eggs and pancakes ($14.95), if you wish.”

What’s even better is that you can add whipped cream and fruits to your pancakes for a more elaborate meal for an additional cost. Can we say delicious?

“We get fresh fish every day provided by local vendors,” Skedeleski notes. “Our eggs are fresh and local, too.”

It’s a beautiful day at Eggs ‘n Things where the cuisine is always made with love and the staff always greets you with a smile.

Eggs ‘n Things
451 Piikoi St.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best