Sunday, December 19, 2010

Good Eats: Mitch's Fish Market

If you like sushi, then Mitch's Fish Market and Sushi Bar is the restaurant for you.  Some people say this place has the best and freshest sushi in Honolulu.  Sushi aficionados will revel in its purity and simplicity.  Mitch's doesn't offer anything fancy, this is all about the fish.  The rolls are simple and few (though they do offer California and spicy tuna rolls), but everything here is amazing.  A word of warning, this place isn't cheap.  You get what you pay for and it's top quality.  

Mitch's located at 524 Ohohia St, Honolulu, Hawaii
Mitch's is located in an industrial area near the airport.  When you arrive it looks like a warehouse with  restaurant on the side--and it is.  The restaurant gets their seafood from the warehouse.  In the warehouse is a large, covered tank where they keep their live seafood.  Sometimes you'll see the chefs walk into the warehouse to pull out your dinner.  Occasionally, the restaurant will set up additional benches and chairs in the warehouse for big parties.

Mitch looks like he could be Ernest Hemingway's brother
The restaurant is the idea of owner's dad, Mitch.  The son, Craig Mitchell, is from South Africa and traveled the world in his youth and settled down in Hawaii.  In 1996 he became owner of the company he worked for, the New Zealand Seafood Company.  Craig is now married to his wife, Linda and has two children.  Craig relocated his parents, Mitch and Yvonne, from South Africa in 1998.  Mitch opened a poke restaurant, aptly called Mitch's Fish Market.  Unfortunately, he closed it after Yvonne passed away several years ago.  After a few years, Mitch decided to start a sushi restaurant and in 2004 he opened Mitch's Fish Market and Sushi Bar.  

It's a small restaurant with a walk-in refrigerator and only 15 seats.  Drinks are like the seating:  limited.  They only serve water and tea.  This restaurant doesn't have a liquor license, so it's BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer).  Whether you have beer, wine, or sake Mitch's will gladly provide the glasses to accompany your meal.  The meals are prepared by master chefs Hideo Mitsui and Masakazu Murakami, who are originally from Japan.  Daily specials are on the chalk board, some are flown in from Japan, Australia, or New Zealand and all are fresh.  The signature dishes here are:  abalone, lobster, and toro (fatty tuna belly).    

Kaiyaki appetizer
First, you should try the kaiyaki appetizer.  Kaiyaki is shellfish and mushrooms in a mayonnaise sauce.  Mitch's used king clam for their kaiyaki and it has a nice, rich taste.  You almost need sake or tea to wash this rich and hot dish down.  

The van van appetizer
Another notable appetizer to try is the van van.  It is grilled shrimp, salmon, avocado, and white fish wrapped in nori (dried seaweed) topped with a mayonnaise sauce.  

Toro with sliced ginger and grated wasabi
Now on to one of the main attractions: the toro.  Notice the marbling of the tuna, indicating that it is full of tasty fat from the belly of the tuna.  There are two grades of toro: chu toro and otoro.  The chu toro is the medium grade of tuna belly with a lower fat content.  The otoro is the prized tuna belly with a high fat content giving it a richer taste.  You can get both here.  Also, I must mention that the wasabi isn't squeezed from a tube.  That is fresh, grated wasabi.  That makes the wasabi more flavorful and hot, so be careful when adding it to your shoyu (soy sauce).  

The ala carte items are delicious, fresh, and simple.  This ala carte dish has onaga (red snapper) on the front to the left, to the right with the white-bluish strip and dash of red is the hamachi (Japanese amberjack or yellowtail), the middle row is ama ebi (raw sweet shrimp), to the right rear is sake (salmon) and the left rear is sardine.  Everything was good, but the ama ebi really stood out as being sweet and light.

The yari ika geso appetizer
For true sushi lovers, I recommend the Omakase or Chef's Special.  Omakase means "entrust" in Japanese, so a patron entrust their meal entirely to the sushi chef.  The chef decides what to prepare based on the  available ingredients and his impressive skills.  Like other high-end sushi restaurants, the Omakase here isn't cheap and I thought it was well worth the price.  The meal includes a small appetizer, a sashimi plate, a hot grilled dish, a sushi plate, and lobster miso soup.  Our appetizer was a small and delicious starter.  That's yari ika geso (squid legs) with a miso sauce over a bed of cucumbers and seaweed.  The soft squid went well with the crunchy cucumber and the saltiness of the miso.  

The sashimi dish featuring abalone and lobster along with assorted fish
The main event, the sashimi plate.  On the left is the maguro (tuna), front and center is the mirugai (king claim), behind the lemon slice is sake (salmon) flown in from New Zealand.  To the right of the mirugai is suzuki (sea bass).  Behind the sea bass is shima aji (Hawaiian papio or jack).  In back right of the plate is the spiny New Zealand lobster sashimi.  All very fresh and succulent.  I thought the lobster was very sweet and light.  To the back right is the abalone.  I know abalone is a delicacy, though for me some slices were tough, chewy, and hard while others were very soft and tender.  However, if you like abalone, you'll love this.

The hot dish: broiled miso butterfish (cod).  It was cooked very nicely, was warm, and very buttery.  

Now, the next course: the sushi plate.  The front left is maguro (bluefin tuna). To the right is toro (fatty tuna belly) and it's rich and melts in your mouth.  I can't remember what sushi in the middle was because I'm drinking sake, but it was good.  The round orange balls in the back are ikura (salmon roe) and to the left is a Japanese delicacy uni (sea urchin).  By this time I'm full and there is one more dish left...

The lobster miso soup, made from the lobster sashimi earlier in the meal.  The soup was tasty and the lobster meat tender.  It was hard getting all the meat out of the legs, but the waitress brought out shellfish forks and a seafood cracker.  A good finish to dinner.  Just remember to bring sake or beer to go with the meal.    

That was a great meal and this is a great sushi restaurant.  I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to try sushi in Honolulu, just be prepared to pay for quality sushi.  Mitch's is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 AM and the last seating is at 8:30 PM.  If you're curious, you can check the main menu and you can also check their daily specials.  Parking is also limited, so you probably have to park on the street.  Reservations are highly recommended and you can call (808) 837-7774 or (808) 837-7775.  Because seating is limited and this place gets busy, the restaurant asks each reservation take no more than two hours.

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