Tailgating in Paradise

Columns Ono, You Know

September 6, 2015

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Football season has officially kicked off, and I’m taking that as my cue to huddle up and map out the most important play for any game viewer: the tailgating spread!

Throughout the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you show up to a pregame party with delicious seafood in hand, your fellow sports fans will become fanatic about your pupus. That’s why I’m so excited to share with you a fantastic new seafood spot I recently discovered. Now, I know I usually point you to a number of eateries to explore, but this high-scoring destination has so many unique and impressive offerings that I had to dedicate my entire column to it. After one bite, you’ll be ready to cheer, “Let’s go, ‘Bows!”

Fresh flavors from under the sea

Forget what you thought you knew about fresh seafood, as Paradise Seafood Market & Restaurant is blowing that out of the water with its unmatched selection of live treasures from the sea.

Co-owners Philip Lee and Ken Kim aim to show a wide range of patrons just how scrumptious superior-quality and extremely fresh seafood options can be — especially when they’re made available for a steal of a deal. The shop only has been open for a little more than a month, but it already is seeing customers return for more live seafood, poke and lunch and dinner plates, and unique offerings.

As general manager Scott Kim puts it, visiting Paradise is like going to a seafood market, but with the added value of enjoying a nice seating area, expert advice on seafood selections and a number of preparation options available to you at no added charge.

The eatery surpasses its competitors in quality and freshness, thanks to its dedication to keeping its live items in peak condition. Everything from Dungeness crab and Maine lobster to abalone and halibut are housed in technologically advanced tanks imported from Korea. Each species remains in its own crystal-clear, clean tank with customized water temperatures and monitered salt and ammonia levels to simulate prime natural environments. Additionally, the tanks are maintained on a daily basis to ensure the seafood is fresh as can be.

For Lee and Kim, this labor of love is well worth it for the unrivaled taste that come from such carefully handled seafood — it’s juicier, more tender and full of unadulterated flavors.

Tailgating touchdown

With offerings like these, you won’t find better options for all of your tailgating needs. There’s plenty to pass around in the Lobster & Crab Combo ($85), combining steamed lobster, Dungeness crab, shrimp, oysters and clams, as well as some corn and savory dipping sauces.

If you’re more interested in picking up a small batch of raw oysters to place on ice, a heap of shrimp to throw on the grill, or even some steamed Dungeness crab (normally $15.99 per pound; currently on special for $12.95 per pound through Sept. 11, limit to three per person) to take to your friend’s in-home game-viewing party, you can get it all at Paradise Seafood.

As an importer and exporter, the shop is able to cut out any middlemen and offer close-to-wholesale prices to all of its customers. That’s how it is able to sell lobster for $17.99 per pound, abalone for $33.99 per pound, and a variety of clams for $8.99-$9.99 per pound (all prices are subject to change) — just to name a few.

Lee, who has worked extensively with fisheries and many facets of the restaurant industry, emphasizes that the selection of seafood always is rotating with seasonal offerings. Right now, for instance, you can snag fresh littleneck and cherrystone clams while they’re still available.

Many of Paradise Seafood’s offerings may be steamed or cut sashimi-style on-site. First-timers should try a steamed item, as the eatery’s special steaming method is timed specifically for each type of seafood, allowing optimum natural flavors to shine through — no seasonings necessary. “If (customers) want us to steam it, we can do that free of charge here and then they can take it home that way, or if they prefer to just take it home live, they can do that and (cook) it themselves,” explains Scott.

Tailgating fare aside, Paradise Seafood also is an ideal place to stop in for a convenient lunch or dinner. In addition the popular Spicy Garlic Shrimp ($12 lunch, $15 dinner), a Miso Butterfish ($15) dinner plate and steamed or sashimi combos also have been game changers.

This season, it’s definitely Paradise Seafood Market & Restaurant for the win.

Paradise Seafood Market & Restaurant

919 Keeaumoku St. Ste. A101
(on the corner of Keeaumoku and Liona streets)
Daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (last call at 10 p.m.)
Parking lot located behind eatery on Liona Street; currently BYOB<

Honolulu, HI 96814

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best