The Catch Of The Day At Nico’s

Jo McGarry
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Friday - August 20, 2005
| | podcast Podcast |

Chef Nico Chaize has the freshest fish in
town at his breakfast and lunch
restaurant, Nico’s Pier 38

Nico Chaize is living the chef dream. Sure, he has his own restaurant and he’s gaining acclaim even as we speak, but the dream part of Nico’s job is what he does first thing in the morning.

“I just walk across there,” he says, pointing to the Pacific Ocean Producers building and new home of the fish auction. It’s next door to the restaurant. “I choose my fish for the day and then bring it right over,” he says with a grin. If you happen to stop by for breakfast of fish and eggs over rice, then chances are you’re eating the freshest fish in Hawaii. Nobody’s getting their fish on the grill before Nico.

“This is a dream come true,” says the 30-something Frenchman. “What chef wouldn’t want to work with such fresh fish?”

Naturally your first taste of Nico’s has to be the furikake grilled ahi or the daily fish special, but there are some other excellent recommendations. Breakfast starts at 6:30 a.m. and attracts a crowd of people who work in the area plus a few foodies who’ve heard the rave reviews. By late morning the lunch crowd gathers. There are dock workers and construction guys seated next to downtown chic chicks and aloha-shirted businessmen. Ladies who lunch have discovered Nico’s too, and while the plastic green lawn chairs and wobbly tables might not quite be the furnishings they’re used to at say, The Veranda, the food is every bit as good — and then some.

Nico has done the fine dining thing (Michel’s, The Bistro) and now he’s happy to take that expertise and apply it to simple, but excellent breakfast and lunch.

It’s not so much plate lunch with attitude; it’s more plate lunch with a heap of style, a whisper of sophistication and a whole lot of taste.

Try the Pier 38 double cheeseburger ($5.75) and it might just make it onto your list of the best few in Honolulu.

Local favorites like hoisin chicken ($6.25) and beef stew ($6.25) come with rice, chow mein noodles and a choice of Nalo greens or mac salad.

The harbor view adds to the complete experience, service is speedy enough to have you back at your desk in no time, and the average price is $6.25.

Nico’s Pier 38 is currently doing about 350-400 lunches a day, so go early to avoid the rush.

For now, the restaurant closes at 2:30 p.m., but Nico says he might open soon for dinner.

“Right now though, I’m really happy,” says the chef with the freshest fish in town.

Nico’s Pier 38

1133 Nimitz Highway

Honolulu HI 96817


Monday-Saturday 6.30 a.m. -2.30 p.m.

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