Tucked away in the industrial section near Honolulu International Airport, this minuscule 15
seat gem serves some of the best seafood I’ve ever tried, PERIOD! As the story goes, Craig
Mitchell started life in South Africa then traveled the world eventually settling in Hawaii,
getting married and started a family in the 50th State. He started working at a seafood
wholesale business which he eventually purchased. Mom and Dad eventually followed him to
Hawaii and ran a poke shop right next to the seafood warehouse. Unfortunately, Mom passed
away several years ago and the poke shop closed with her passing. However Douglas “Mitch”
Mitchell wasn’t ready for retirement so the family started Mitch’s Fish Market & Sushi Bar in
2004 hiring chefs Hideo Matsui and Masakazu Murakami to work the kitchen.
About the Size of Your Dining Room
That’s not an exaggeration; the dining area literally is about the size of an average dining room
with two tables for 4, one table for 2 and five barstools fronting the sushi counter. Therefore
reservations are essential or expect to wait for quite a while if you just want to drop in. Since it’s
also located in the industrial district, there’s not a lot of street parking to be found during the
workday hours – there are 2 to 3 spaces right in front of Mitch’s but it’s often used for the
wholesale vehicles. Hard to find parking, not very many seats, “why should I try this place”?
Well, it’s simply to sample some of the BEST seafood, PERIOD!
The Ultimate Sampler
We decided to try Mitch’s Special Course ($85 per person with 2 person minimum) that
included an appetizer, assorted sashimi, assorted nigiri sushi, grilled course and their special miso
Our meal started with three slices of steamed abalone shipped from Tasmania served with a
simple soy based sauce. Very tender with just a hint of sweetness. Since Mitch’s is a BYO
establishment, I brought a bottle of Watari Bune Yuki no Bosha sake. Made from Watari Bune
rice which almost disappeared due to its fragility, Watari Bune is a true heirloom variety of rice
which claims Yamada Nishiki as one of its descendants. With ripe melon, papaya and lime on the
nose with a pleasant viscosity on the palate and layers of flavor sensations and a touch of
sweetness, it was the perfect foil to the rich seafood.
The assorted sashimi platter is pictured and included New Zealand spiny lobster, Tasmanian
abalone, chuu toro, hamachi, hagi, Japan scallops and wild New Zealand salmon. Just this
platter alone would have made the meal! The salmon was the BEST salmon sashimi I’ve ever had
and mind you, I’ve had my fair share of salmon through the years including wild Copper River
salmon. In fact, the only salmon I haven’t tried is the legendary toki shirazu from Japan though
I can’t imagine any other salmon better than this. Like salmon flavored “buttah”. The scallops
were sweet and moist and perfect with the sake while the hamachi was another fish flavored
“buttah”. It had a firm texture which I never had before. Even if good hamachi in Hawaii is very
flavorful, the texture can sometimes border of mushy. Mitch’s hamachi was very firm yet very
The hagi (filefish) was a new flavor and textural sensation for the Mrs. Though it was a white
meat fish, it didn’t have the “crunchy” texture of fresh tai (which the Mrs doesn’t care for).
Finally, the abalone and spiny lobster were as fresh as fresh gets. Our server showed us the
specimens right after they were pulled from the tank (which was the only downside for the Mrs
– she doesn’t want to make “eye’ contact with any food that she’s about to consume). Firm,
sweet and flavorful was the lobster and firm and slightly sweet was the abalone. They also
provide freshly grated wasabi with the sashimi which is leagues apart from tubed powdered
wasabi – slightly sweet and none of that nasal piercing spiciness. Just a nice sharp contrast to
rich seafood. The only downside for yours truly is that the Mrs now wants me to go free diving
again to catch local spiny lobster. She said that now that she’s had it as sashimi, she can’t go
back to cooked lobster anymore.
Sushi to Go
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better with the sashimi platter, the assorted sushi
platter took the taste buds to new heights. We actually had a grilled appetizer between the
sashimi and sushi courses – Van Van which was a grilled shrimp, salmon and avocado rolled in
white fish and broiled with a mayonnaise and sour cream topping. Also very good though I don’
t want to elaborate on it since I forgot to take a photo of it. Gomenasai!
We started the sushi with the ikura or salmon roe, plump slightly salty eggs that popped in your
mouth but with none of the “fishiness” that sometimes is present in not-so-fresh ikura. The uni
was a first for the Mrs and myself, we normally pass on uni since cheaper version can be grainy
and a bit fishy. Not this specimen, like mixing a concentrated dashi with egg yolks and a bit of
cream – the consistency of creamy deviled eggs with the flavor of the sea. Again perfect with
the Watari Bune sake.
We progressed to the sayori or needlefish which was a special that was in season. Slightly sweet
white meat fish accented with grated sweet ginger and negi. Delish! Then we progressed to the
crème-de-la-crème. The kampachi (a relative of hamachi) was so rich, it made butter seem like
margarine. Hawaii does farm raise Kona Kampachi off the coast of Kona but since tropical
waters aren’t nearly as cold as the Japan Sea the farm raised specimens don’t build fat reserves
like the cold water specimens. The maguro from Japan was as good as any tuna from Hawaii and
the o-toro… Words aren’t adequate to describe it. It looked like hamachi since it was so white.
It was like the richest tuna flavored “buttah” that I’ve ever had. I’ve had several air flown Japan
o-toro in Hawaii but NOTHING could compare to this. Forget foie gras, caviar and the rest!
This would be my final meal… along with a glass of Watari Bune.
Mitch’s does provide their miso shiru to all diners with the difference being in plating
(bowling). If you order the lobster sashimi course, it comes with the chopped pieces of lobster
body parts in the soup, if not it comes with the head of a large shrimp. Any way you’re a
winner. The broth is prepared with lobster and shrimp shells so the miso shiru is more like a
Japanese lobster bisque (sans cream) flavored with miso. I could get used to this soup every
morning with breakfast.
We also ordered the ankimo or monk fish liver since it was in season (I couldn’t pass on the foie
gras of the sea). Rich fish flavor with no grittiness. And at risk of sounding like a broken record,
perfect with the Watari Bune sake.
If you enjoy sashimi or sushi and are visiting the 50th State, I highly recommend a sojourn to
Mitch’s Fish Market & Sushi Bar. It is a little pricey but that’s the cost for probably some of the
best seafood you’ve ever tried. Along with the former First Lady of the State, there was a diner
who had a temporary layover in Hawaii who cabbed it from the airport for lunch then cabbed it
back. It is that good.
Mitch’s Fish Market & Sushi Bar
524 Ohohia Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
Monday ~ Saturday
11:30 a.m. ~ 8:30 p.m
Sunday - Closed
(808) 837-7774 or (808) 837-7775
Mitch’s Fish Market & Sushi Bar