Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Uncle’s Fish Market & Grill

Restaurant Insider

May 5, 2019

Story By: Dining Out Team | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

Uncle’s Fish Market & Grill owner Bruce Johnson, left, executive chef Kemar Durfield and Anne Lee enjoy a meal at Uncle’s newest location at Pearlridge Center.

ANNE LEE speaks with founder BRUCE JOHNSON

If you haven’t noticed yet, Pearl-ridge Center has been undergoing quite a few changes recently. Among one of the mall’s exciting revamps is a delicious addition to its Downtown phase, Uncle’s Fish Market & Grill.

Now the second location, Uncle’s newest Pearlridge hot spot has been given the seal of approval by hungry mall shoppers and beyond.

In addition to Uncle’s appetizing and fresh eats in Pearlridge and Pier 38, the staff is sure to deliver superb customer service.

Sushi Bowl ($25)

“Our goal is to treat everyone like family,” says founder and creator of Uncle’s Bruce Johnson. “Hawaii is a multi-cultural place — it isn’t just about one culture, it’s a mix. That’s what we do in our food and our staff. That’s where I come from — as long as I own this restaurant, that’s what we are going to strive to do.”

For the ultimate seafood experience, drop into any of Uncle’s two locations and get ready for the best “boat cruise” you’ve ever been on.

“We bring fresh seafood, fresh off the boat — boat to the plate, everything we do is fresh,” emphasized Johnson. “One of the slogans I put up when we first opened was, ‘sorry there’s no frozen fish here.'”

AL: What is the restaurant’s most popular dish?

BJ: Fresh Onaga ($35) with lobster sauce is one. There are chunks of lobster in the sauce that goes on top of onaga.

Fresh Onaga ($35)

Another is the Garlic Ahi (market price), which is Chef Arakawa’s recipe. It is so complex. The award-winning sauce is a seven-step sauce to make.

We also have Fish and Chips with our most popular one being Big Uncle’s Combo ($20). We only use fresh fish, even though it’s fish and chips, we cut fresh fish and take all the bloodline out. There are two pieces of daily fresh fish, two giant white gulf shrimp and two calamari strips. They are all then seasoned, covered in panko breading and deep-fried. The combo comes with french fries and a side of house-made coleslaw.

AL: Can you share what’s in your famous Sushi Bowl?

BJ: Our Sushi Bowl is only $25 and it’s a chirashizushi-style bowl, with fresh ahi, hamachi and house cured salmon sashimi. Also included is ahi tartar, ikura, deep-fried calamari and sushi rice, all garnished with chiso and pickled ginger.

AL: What makes the restaurant stand out from other restaurants on the island?

Big Uncle’s Combo ($20)

BJ: On the boat you have a captain and a crew — everyone eats together, fishes together and “bleeds” together. What I’ve learned from this concept of being on a team, is the same way that we run the restaurant. We are one team, one family, no matter what happens. We are always there for each other. This translates to the food we serve and the service we give customers. It’s all important, and it seeds from passion. We teach our staff that when our customers come through our doors, we have to treat them like our “uncle,” (like family) — that’s our target.

AL: Anything else to share?

BJ: Everything in our restaurant is real. There is a 1,805-pound pacific blue marlin fish hanging in our Pearlridge restaurant that Cornelius Choi, a famous sport fisherman, caught with his daughter by chance — it choked to death by a tuna and that’s how this huge fish was caught.

Uncle’s Award Winning Garlic Ahi


• 2 3.5-ounce onaga filets
• 2 ounces sliced oyster mushrooms
• 2 ounce olive oil or clarified butter
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 ounce sherry wine
• 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
• Juice of half a lemon


1. Heat the skillet, pour in oil or clarified butter.

2. Dust the fish with flour and place in skillet.

3. Cook on each side for two to three minutes. Take the fish out of the pan and place on a plate. Discard the cooking oil. Add softened butter to the skillet, followed by the mushrooms and garlic. Stir for one minute, then add wine and lemon juice. Stir for 15-20 seconds and add scallions. Pour over fish and serve.

Honolulu, HI 96817

Aiea, HI 96701

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best