A friend asked me for recommendations for seafood in Honolulu, I sent him the following. Comments? Did I mislead him, did I leave out anything important?
Nicks Fishmarket at the AlaMoana hotel is said to be the best, but it is going to run around $40 or more per person just for the entree, gotta figure $80/person for the whole meal, maybe more depending on the drinks.
I have never liked Sam Choy's in Kapahulu, been there 4 times, and it was never good. Two of the times my food was cold by the time it was served. One other time my Sister-in-Law's fish was so overcooked (I think they were keeping it warm) that she sent it back. it wasn't a whole lot better when it came out the second time.
Sam Choy's on Nimitz on the other hand is a pretty good value for what you get. A good variety, decent service, decent prices, above average food.
Hee Hing chinese restaurant on Kapahulu does a good job on Chinese Style seafood.
Duke's in Waikiki is overpriced at Dinner, but the lunches are much more reasonable. I have had fish there several times (usually "Duke's Style"), and it was always well prepared.
The following is a quote from a food website (chowhound.com): "Nico's at Pier 38 is an absolute must for seafood, local favorites and plate lunches with gourmet flare - very, very affordable and great value. If you like Kakaako Kitchen, you'll love Nico's."
They have a website as well: http://www.nicospier38.com/ It is across nimitz hwy from the Nimitz Buisiness Center (the one with the big green space frames), little bit ewa of home depot/costco.
Fisherman's Warf. I've never been. Never heard anything about it being special in any way, except that it has been there for a long long long time.
I've heard so many mixed reviews about John Dominis that I would hesitate to recommend it, the view is great, it is pricey. Out by Point Panic in Kakaako.
Monarch Seafood on Kalihi Street, about a block Makai of Dillingham has really good seafood plate lunch. I haven't been in a long time though. Get there by around 11 for the best choice.
I have heard that Bali-by-the-Sea at the Hilton does a very good job with seafood,but I have never been. Again on the pricey side.
The Crab Tank in Kapalama is really good for shellfish (near the DMV). Mostly a lunch or early dinner place (they close at like 7). Very much a down home place, not fine dining, very reasonable prices.
Kinkaids is very dependable. It is a large chain, and the Honolulu one is always quite good. (Ward Warehouse, near Spagetti Factory - Ewa end)
There are two new "Japanese" seafood restaurants on the upper level at AlaMoana (near Macaroni Grill). I have not heard good things about either one. (Tsukiji or the Kyoto Osho)
i've only been to nicks, dukes, kinkaids.... i haven't been to the others.. haven't had the urge to go fisherman's wharf...
kinkaids is reliable... dukes i'm not a fan of even for lunch. i only like to go for drinks... nick's... was good.. went once. it was pricey. i found it to be a bit odd.. but i'm thinking i was actually influenced by the company that i was there with... usually i make the best of the situation, and while i thought it was okay, it was a lil "over the top" for me when it comes to service. and i like good service.. i like seafood village for chinese seafood over at hyatt...
since they wanted recs in town, they don't want to go up to kailua?
hahah since they wanted seafood, they didn't want to get drinks at da ROW bar? hahaha
Well, I've only been to a few of the recs. that you mention, but here's my take on those:
1.) Came very highly recommended. We had four unspectacular meals there. All guests were seafood lovers from New Orleans and nothing was that good. Don't mind high prices, but I want to get something for the $. I'd not bother going back.
2.) Sam Choy's - Kapahulu, not Nimitz Hwy. I've yet to have a really good meal there. I always found the prep to be far too heavy, and that's even by NOLA standards!
3.) Bali-by-the-Sea - always great. I have dined there on every trip for the last 9 years and have loved each meal. Pricy - yes, but to me well worth the $.
4.) John Dominus - pricey touristy, but the best opakapaka I have ever tasted (sorry AW and Chef Mavro). Wife's marlin and opah were great too. Been twice, over the years, and each trip was excellent. Not keen on the "vibes" of the place, but cannot fault any dish that I have tried there.
I'd also add Alan Wong's, King St. While not known as a "seafood" restaurant, we almost always have seafood there, in one, or more courses. Always spectacular. Even dishes, that I do not normally like, have been prepared in such a way, that I have greatly enjoyed them. Pineapple Room may have more pure seafood on the menu, but it is just not the same as King St.
We've done other Kincaids, and they have been OK, but nothing that I'd venture out for. Mostly, we find ourselves arriving into a city late, and want something nearby. That's how we've done most of the Kincaids. Now, there is a Kincaids (not part of the mini-chain) in DC, that is spectacular, but that's another story.
There used to be a restaurant at the Aloha Tower complex, Scott's, that was very good, and moderately priced. I do not know if they are still there, or if so, are still any good. Might be worth a search to find comments, or reviews.