What fish/seafood should we have?
My favorite local fishes are moi, opah, monchong, hebi, and opakapaka. Local mahimahi is quite good too, but there is a lot of imported mahimahi on menus here, so you have to be cautious. Ahi is also caught here and very good.
If you are interested in cooking the fish yourself, Tamashiro's Market and Nico's Fish Market are your best bets for getting local fish that's really fresh. Standard supermarkets and Costco will sometimes have local fish, but the quality is often a little lower.
If you are interested in eating local fresh fish at restaurants, Nico's and Uncle's will have the best value. Many hotel restaurants in Waikiki will have something good and fresh but very expensive, like $35-$45 a plate or more. I've heard Azure is very good.
Butterfish to my knowledge is black cod and comes from Alaska. Mostly you see it frozen. Occasionally it will pop up fresh at Tamashiro's Market or Costco.
If you see moi on a menu, get it. It was a fish reserved for Hawaiian royalty for a reason.
Agree with others that you go with what is fresh. Almost all fish in Hawai'i nei are delicious.
My personal favorites are opakapaka (pink snapper) for delicate preparations, ono for grilling and fish and chips, and black ulua/buta guchi for pretty everything. I like kippered akule for breakfast, smoked marlin for snacks and pate, ahi poke for lunch, he'e (octopus) on the grill for dinner...
OK, I'm back to anything that's fresh.
Are you dining out or cooking for your self? If the former, ask the server what was caught that day. If the latter, there should be a fish shop near one of the harbors that takes in the day's catch. Also, many of the grocery stores (Big Island anyway) receive daily fresh deliveries.
If the Opah is freshly caught, that is delicious! Ono another good option. Last trip we had Tombo (albacore tuna we were told) for the first time and it was delicious--nothing like the canned.
Maine lobster is farmed on the Big Island and many restaurants have lobster nights; not sure if it is fresh on the other islands.
Your best bet is to ask and pay attention to whatever the daily specials are. It will be pretty obvious as to what you can't find on the mainland as restaurants typically use the Hawaiian name for something on the menu. In Maui, places like Monkeypod Kitchen will have "catch of the day" specials.
Grilled Kona abalone at the KCC Farmers Market is definitely a special treat. We also had some at Chef Mavro in Honolulu.
Fresh opakapaka (red snapper) is also delciious. You may also see Kekaha shrimp from Kauai or Hawaiian spiny lobster on menus.
Here's a good list of Hawaiian fish:
Bigeye Tuna (Ahi
)Yellowfin Tuna (Ahi)
Albacore Tuna (Tombo Ahi)
Skipjack Tuna (Aku)
Blue Marlin (Kajiki)
Striped Marlin (Nairagi)
Shortbill Spearfish (Hebi)
Broadbill Swordfish (Mekajiki)
Other Ocean Species
Sickle Pomfret (Monchong)
Long-Tail Red Snapper (Onaga)
Pink Snapper (Opakapaka)
Blue-Green Snapper (Uku)
Sea Bass (Hapu'upu'u)
It is sustainable. Overfishing the reefs and industrial harvesting of oceanic fish is depleting the stocks so badly they may never recover. Everybody wants tuna and there just isn't enough for everybody to eat it all the time.
Most, but not all farmed fish and seafood have serious problems. Farmed shrimp especially, which is most of the shrimp you will find, is often raised overseas in unhealthy conditions, heavy use of antibiotics, damaging local water resources for the locals to provide for the export market to rich countries. But it is cheaper than wild caught or sustainably raised.
The Nalolicious folks at the Ala Moana Saturday farmer's market do a pretty impressive job with their large sized farm raised tilapia...it must be ordered in advance, and they spend several days getting it prepared (putting it thru clean tanks etc) for their customers.
If you go to a restaurant that has a regular printed menu featuring the same fish dish(es) every day, you can be pretty sure it isn't going to be fresh or local.
If it is cheap, probably not fresh or local.
If it is a shrimp truck, probably not.
If it is the day's special at a restaurant, better chance.
If you go to Nico's or Uncle's at Pier 38, where the daily fish auction is held, you can be pretty sure it is fresh and local.
For a good guide to what are the best choices for sustainable seafood, go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch site or app...they have a Hawaii page:
Butterfish is more a preparation than a species, see this description from the late John Heckathorn, long-time local food critic: http://www.hawaiimagazine.com/blogs/h...