Eating fish in Hawaii is like eating beef or pork in the Midwest. Everyone here is into fish in a big way. My favorite local dish is tuna, raw, and blackened.
For obvious cultural and geographic reasons, Japanese sushi and sashimi (what the Japanese named raw fish, because, well, you know– raw fish scares people) are popular in Hawaii. There’s a small restaurant on Ward Avenue, not far from downtown Honolulu, which serves the best blackened ahi (tuna) in town.
California Beach Rock ‘N Sushi is a small, rough hewn, warehouse style local restaurant and sushi bar which specializes in an eclectic blend of Pacific Rim cuisine and local plates. Among the most popular is an early bird dinner special with tempura, sushi, sashimi, salmon, salad, rice and soup.
It’s a popular dish and a good value. But it’s not the famous Blackened Ahi To Die For.
It doesn’t take much to serve ahi (raw tuna) in Hawaii. Start with fresh ahi, chill, slice, serve. See? That’s as easy as it gets. The skill is in the selection of fish as much as in preparation.
Blackened ahi requires special preparation. The California Beach blackened ahi is served over a bed of sauteed Maui sweet onions, featuring a special mixture of butter and garlic.
That’s what’s underneath. On top is the ahi, sliced thicker than traditional Japanese sashimi, with a crust of peppers and secret ingredients and quick fried so only the outer edge is blackened, the inside of the ahi remains cool and fresh.
If ever there was a delicacy for which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, it’s blackened ahi at California Beach Rock ‘N Sushi. The sushi bar is good– from Caterpillar Roll to Firecracker to the Tarantula Roll (not real spiders). The early bird dinner special is an excellent value, even after you realize the plate is much larger than needed to hold the dinner.
The blackened ahi? It’s to die for.