Looking for a great foodie adventure in Honolulu that shows off the best in fresh, local seafood? Want the chance to witness the process of how that delicious mahimahi gets from the ocean and onto your plate? Look no further than the Honolulu Fish Auction at Pier 38.
For this Honolulu day trip, you’ll need to start really early. The action happens before the sun comes up, and you’ll want to be there when the bell rings to start the auction at 5:30am sharp.
Up to 160,000 lbs of fish come through the new Honolulu Fish Auction facility daily, so things move very quickly and efficiently. Fish are unloaded at the dock literally right outside, and brought in to the temperature controlled (read, COLD!) auction area where buyers from local restaurants, supermarkets, and even a handful of locals looking for the perfect fish for the weekend’s tailgate party or baby luau will inspect each fish for quality and freshness before placing their bids.
On the day that I visited the auction, Chef Nico Chaize was there in person, along with representatives from all the major restaurants in town – Nobu, Hiroshi’s, and Alan Wong’s, to name a few. (In the video below, you can catch Chef Nico on the left side in the tan jacket.) Listen in to the fast pace of the action as the men bid over one another – it almost reminded me of watching gambling, and you can see how tempers can flare when the supply is low and demand is high! Chat with the fishermen, who usually stick around to see how their catch will fare. Leave the bidding to the pros though – these fish can go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars each!
After the excitement dies down, or you get too cold (whichever comes first!) take a walk down the pier to Nico’s at Pier 38. This restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch and serves probably the freshest fish on the island, as it is literally right next to the fish auction!
We sampled fresh mahi mahi and eggs with fried rice, but if you come for lunch you can take your pick of the catch of the day or the local’s favorite, furikake crusted seared ahi tuna. Plate lunches are popular (including traditional Hawaiian plates) or you can choose from a variety of rotating specials. Whatever you choose, the food is delicious, fresh, and affordable, and a great way to wrap up your morning foodie adventure.
Honolulu Fish Auction
Hours: 5:30am (sharp!) until the fish sells out
Tips: Make sure to bring a jacket and some closed-toed shoes for walking around the auction blocks.
Nico’s at Pier 38
Hours: Monday – Friday 6:30am – 5:00pm, Saturday 6:30am – 2:30pm
1133 N. Nimitz HWY
Honolulu, HI 96817
Phone: (808) 540-1377
Click here for a map to Pier 38 where you can plug in your starting location to get turn by turn directions. For pictures from my visit, see the full album on the WhyGo Hawaii Facebook page. Don’t forget to “like” us when you’re there!
Here’s some video for sneak peek: