The popular idioms and mantras of don’t judge a book by its cover and size isn’t everything are especially true when talking about a fantastic hole-in-the-wall restaurant like Ahi Assassins Fish Co. This is a tiny take-out restaurant that is tucked up, and yet it offers its guests a delicious seafood experience that will leave you hungry for seconds and wondering why it wasn’t found sooner.
Ahi Assassins is a locally-owned and operated poke spot that first opened its doors in 2013, and has since attracted some serious attention. This restaurant has been featured in a myriad of media pieces, including a spot in Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil well as being cited as a “best of” by the New York Times, CNN Travel, OutsideMagazine, and much more. Like we said, size isn’t everything and this nondescript place is a go-to for those who love poke.
The owners of Ahi Assassins proudly operate their store by the state’s famed motto of, “Caught here, not brought here” as every item on the menu was locally caught. In fact, a large portion of the fish is caught by the owners and their crew themselves as co-owner Josh Schade is a Hawaiian by birth and ancestry and grew up as a fisherman (when they first opened, Schade looked to source all the fish on his own, but the demand for his poke outpaced what his crew could provide — especially with the risks of going days without catching enough). It was that love of the sea and the local fishing waters that inspired him and his girlfriend and co-owner Erika Luna, to open the doors on Ahi Assassins.
Five colorful fish flags hang outside of the Ahi Assassins. When they first opened, the flags to be hung were chosen based on what type of fish was caught that day — an easy way to alert passersby about what was on the menu. Since becoming such a hit, however, Ahi Assassins now sources food from a variety of fishers and now regularly hang all five out as their unofficial signage. The shop is small and currently has no seating, so be prepared to order and get your items to go. But don’t let these things dissuade you from ordering up as the poke bowls are truly worth it.
Ahi Assassins specializes in fresh poke so good it doesn’t need a ridiculous amount of toppings. This is fish freshly served with just the right touch of marinating to really bring out those flavors. The fresh poke starts out at $12 a pound but will vary in price depending upon what type of fish you choose. This is an incredibly great price, especially considering that this is seafood served pretty much boat to case. This fish isn’t frozen nor bartered through a half-dozen middlemen.
While poke bowls are the true bread and butter of Ahi Assassins, they aren’t the only thing on the menu. This restaurant also offers hot plates in which you can get your fresh Hawaiian fish served baked, pan-seared, sautéed, or fried. These plates come with a side of two rice scoops that can be subbed for a potato salad. Kalua pig also frequently makes the specialism list and can be a good choice for those who want to try the poke but not commit. A local favorite is a bucket of deep-fried ahi bones that can really hit the spot after a long day.
Note, before heading out to the Honolulu strip mall location, make sure to check Ahi Assassins’ website as of this publishing, there are discussions of moving to a new location.
While they don’t advertise it, Ahi Assassins does do mail delivery orders. So if you find yourself addicted to their poke (which wouldn’t be unusual), make sure to ask them about their overnight deliveries to the mainland.