Luck of the Ahi

Columns Ono, You Know

December 28, 2014

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

The monthlong holiday festivities have come and gone. (Yes, like every year, I’m suffering from Christmas withdrawals and saying goodbye to my favorite time of year is never easy.) Yet, in place of merry holiday cheer are those good ‘ole New Year’s resolutions that we all make with full optimism and determination. But alas, while these pesky resolutions come and go all within a matter of time, New Year’s traditions are alive and well for generations to come. The consumption of ahi during the new year is a tradition I was raised on. For kamaaina, ahi symbolizes happiness and prosperity.

This week’s ode to ahi celebrates the smooth texture and taste of this island staple. Here at the following OYK locales, you’ll be reeling in quite a catch of New Year’s luck!

Eggs ‘n Things

For the quintessential breakfast fanatic, Eggs ‘n Things is one of the first establishments that come to mind when in need of pancakes, omelets, loco moco and more. Though such a vague word, “things” at Eggs ‘n Things translate to ultimate deliciousness. With three locations islandwide, the restaurant doesn’t discriminate against diners’ differentiating tastes. There literally is something for everyone on the menu, and Cajun Ahi Mixed Salad ($13.90) dispels the belief that breakfast foods are the only option.

A more recent addition to the menu, Cajun Ahi Mixed Salad is on point, served daily from noon to closing. Local mesclun greens are the foundation of the dish, along with slices of cucumber and shredded carrot. However, it’s no surprise that 4 to 5 ounces of sliced ahi steal the show. Eggs ‘n Things receives a shipment of ahi daily, so there’s no question about freshness. The chunks of fish are dressed with just the right amount of house-made Cajun seasoning, which provides a mildly spicy flair. For added texture the exterior of the fish is seared.

“In Asian cultures, and especially here in Hawaii, ahi is perceived to be a New Year’s tradition. It’s believed to represent wealth, prosperity and good health,” explains Nolan Yamamoto, assistant manager of the Piikoi location

Since top-notch ahi already is a given, the dish is golden, accentuated with bits of homemade croutons and splashed with a house-blended dressing composed of a ranch dressing base, buttermilk, shoyu, sesame oil and, of course, a most-coveted house seasoning that brings extra zing to already outstanding flavor.

Eggs ‘n Things
451 Piikoi St.

3660 on the Rise

Kahai Street Kitchen's Panko Shrimp Stuffed Fresh Ahi Roll (market price) L. FRIEL PHOTO

Kahai Street Kitchen’s Panko Shrimp Stuffed Fresh Ahi Roll (market price) L. FRIEL PHOTO

A frontrunner in Hawaii’s restaurant scene, 3660 on the Rise serves up the best of Pacific Rim cuisine with confidence and class. The award-winning restaurant is owned and operated by celebrity chef Russell Siu and proprietor Gale Ogawa, who opened the sophisticated restaurant on Waialae Avenue. Yet, chef de cuisine Lydell Leong also runs the show as a force in the kitchen. One of Leong’s longtime specialties is Ahi Katsu, which has graced the menu since 3660’s opening in September 1992. Priced at $15.75, the dish features sashimi-grade ahi wrapped in nori and deep-fried medium rare. Wasabi ginger sauce is liquid decadence that also complements the dish with layers of spice and zest — the perfect kick for all ahi lovers.

“Ahi Katsu is our best-seller by far. Honestly, we never can take it off the menu — we’re not allowed to — patrons love it that much,” Leong says of this superlative appetizer.

Leong takes his customers’ opinions and insight to heart, and with that, the famous Ahi Katsu is here to stay for the long haul.

3660 on the Rise
3660 Waialae Ave.

Kahai Street Kitchen

3660's Ahi Katsu ($14)

3660’s Ahi Katsu ($14)

It’s almost time to bid ado to holiday indulgences, but indulgences, as a matter of fact, are an everyday thing at Kahai Street Kitchen in Kalihi, where the Islands’ signature plate lunch concept is transformed into something grand — a gourmet meal with all the bells and whistles, aka fresh, locally sourced ingredients at a price that won’t leave a dent in your pocketbook. The eatery, open Tuesday through Friday, is hot among the lunch crowd. A favorite? According to owner Nao Iwata, Panko Shrimp Stuffed Fresh Ahi Roll (market price) ranks high on the list. As beautiful as it is delicious, this Kahai keepsake features noriand shiso-wrapped fresh island ahi stuffed with panko shrimp.

Chef David Yamamoto butterflies the ahi, seasons it just a bit (it doesn’t need much flavor enhancement) and tops it off with shiso leaves and morsels of panko-coated shrimp. Once rolled, similar to a maki-sushi roll, it’s coated with a light flour batter and panko. The final steps call for Yamamoto to flash-fry the ahi a pinkish hue of medium rare. Trust me, you’ll be blown away. Panko Shrimp Ahi Roll is broke the mouth onolicious, thus making Kahai Street Kitchen the creme de la creme of gourmet comfort food.

Kahai Street Kitchen
237 Kalihi St.

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best