Take a Bite: Maguro Brothers sate fish cravings
Ahi, tuna, maguro. Whatever you call this prized fish, it's a favorite on Hawaii tables and stars in poke bowls, rice plates, sandwiches and a few grab-and-go rolls offered at the new Maguro Brothers stall within Chinatown's Kekaulike Market.
Since their lease on Waialae Avenue expired this summer, Sakura restaurant’s Junichiro and Ryojiro Tsuchiya have popped up downtown with a streamlined menu to sate fish lovers' cravings.
Those familiar with gritty marketplace stalls will be happy to know Maguro Brothers is one of the gleaming spots within the marketplace; you’ll find them in stall 113 at the King Street end, in the back row.
Look for the refrigerator case full of varying grades of ahi waiting to be filleted, as well as ready-to-go fillets for home-cooked meals of miso butterfish, miso salmon, mahimahi and more.
But, you’ll probably end up in this spot because you’re too lazy to cook and the brothers offer specialties comprising maguro fresh from the morning auctions.
Junichiro draws on his expertise working in Japan’s renowned Tsukiji Fish Market to select the day’s catch, while Ryojiro puts his chef talents to work on spare, but elegant (and fast!) offerings of grilled ahi belly ($6.95), an ahi-avocado sandwich ($5.75), hamachi kama plate ($7.75), garlic kajiki bowl ($6.95) and a variety of poke bowls, including namesake maguro, and hamachi bowls, at $5.95 for a small bowl to $7.50 regular. All prices include tax.
Junichiro said there was a learning curve involved in serving the Hawaii market because the Hawaii palate is so different from Japan, where, for instance, they don't dunk their sushi into a pool of shoyu and wasabi, and they don't coat their maguro in spicy mayo.
But he said he was surprised by the high quality of the tuna here, caught fresh close to home.
"Everybody sends their fish to Japan," he said, but there's little control over how international fleets handle their catch before arriving in the marketplace. As a result, he said, there's a lot more variety — but even at Tsukiji, quality is uneven. It's one more reason we're lucky to live here.
Maguro Brothers in Kekaulike Market is at 1039 Kekaulike St. Call (808) 259-7100.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage appears in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.