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Hawai‘i Seafood from A to Z - Guide to the Best Seafood in Hawai‘i

April 7th, 2022
Hawai‘i Seafood from A to Z - Guide to the Best Seafood in Hawai‘i

With more than 200 miles of tidal coastline surrounding our island, there is little doubt why seafood is always on the menu. Whether you’re grabbing a rod and reel or simply pulling up a chair to a restaurant serving seafood towers, grilled filets, or expertly seasoned poke, our A to Z guide to the best seafood in Hawai‘i is here to help you navigate our aquatic treasures.

‘Ahi (Bigeye Tuna)

The bigeye ‘ahi is highly valued, with a higher fat content and richer flavor than the yellowfin. The mild-flavored fish is delicious in a poke bowl or cooked with a quick sear.

‘Ahi (Yellowfin Tuna)

Used most frequently in authentic sashimi (sliced, Japanese style), sushi (as a garnish with cooked, rolled rice), and poke (marinated) dishes, you’ll find this versatile fish most commonly served raw. In raw form, yellowfin has a bright red color with a mild and meaty flavor.

Aku (Skipjack Tuna)

A much bolder, “fishy” taste than their ‘ahi cousin. Many prefer the deep red meat of the aku over the ‘ahi in raw dishes.

A‘u or Hebi (Shortbill Spearfish)

The mild flavored spearfish is often featured as the “catch of the day” entrée at upscale eateries due to their soft texture and unique flavor described as nutty, citrusy, and chicken-like.

A‘u or Kajiki (Blue Marlin)

Kajiki has a firm flesh and high fat content making them an excellent substitute for ‘ahi.

A‘u or Nairagi (Striped Marlin)

Like kajiki, nairagi is often substituted for ‘ahi in raw fish dishes and is considered the most popular of all marlin species due to their firm texture, mild flavor, and light pink to orange-red color.

Awa (Milkfish)

The mild, sweet flavors of the awa are generally found steamed or deep fried and the texture is suitable for a variety of cooking techniques from soup to grilling.

Ehu (Red Snapper)

The sought-after bright red-orange bottom fish has an incredible sweetness which makes them perfect for raw dishes like ceviche or sushi, or sautéed, pan roasted, and broiled.

Enenue (Rudderfish)

Best eaten raw, the enenue (also called sea chub or nenue) has a strong, seaweed aroma.

Hapu‘upu‘u (Sea Bass)

The low fat fish has a white, semi-firm flaky flesh with a delicate taste and mild flavor. The sea bass is best when cooked, by methods like steaming, baking, poaching, or even deep frying.

Hawaiian Butterfish (Black Sablefish)

A rich taste and medium textured fish you’ll find in the traditional dish, lau lau. The Hawaiian lau lau is made of pork and butterfish wrapped in lu'au, ti, or taro leaves before being steamed for several hours.


He'e (Octopus)

Also called ‘tako’ or even ‘squid’, the day or night octopi are similar in taste, with the night he'e a bit tougher in texture. Consumed raw, octopus can taste both salty and sweet with a rubbery texture. If cooking, braising works best, as boiling the octopus can sacrifice flavor.

Hogo (Scorpionfish)

The bottomfish’s flesh is firm, chewy, and lean. We love this fish fried in a nice batter. The texture is really nice and is similar to lobster.

Kanpachi (Amberjack)

The sweet flavor and flaky, firm texture of kanpachi has earned this fatty fish the nickname “the fish of the future” of “the wonder fish” for their year-round availability, versatility, and eco-friendly production.

Kumu (Goatfish)

This bright pink prized delicacy can be found steamed whole or served en papillote, a method of cooking in which the fish is put into a folded pouch and baked. With just the right flavors, the kumu becomes flaky, juicy, and buttery.

Mahimahi (Dolphinfish)

The white-fleshed fish has a classic sweet flavor and is one of the most popular fish served in Hawai‘i - and elsewhere.

Mukau or Monchong (Sickle Pomfret)

The exotic monchong isn’t easy to come by, but we’ve spotted this moderate-flavored white fish on menus broiled, sautéed, steamed, or baked and encrusted with macadamia nuts.

Ogo (Seaweed)

The crisp, light, and salty seaweed is packed with vitamins and minerals and can often be found raw in poke, salad, and sushi dishes.

Ono Malani (Wahoo)

Ono meaning “good to eat” is a flaky, delicate fish with a mild flavor. We typically see this lean white fish blackened and served in sandwiches.


ʻOpae (Shrimp)

Kauai or Pacific white leg prawns are particularly delicious, with their incredibly sweet flavor and superior texture. Keep an eye out for Amaebi shrimp as well. The variety has a red appearance and is one of the only species of shrimp that is best enjoyed raw.

Opah (Moonfish)

The rich and fatty white moonfish is rich, flaky, and bold, and is delicious when smoked and topped with a spicy glaze.

Opakapaka (Pink Snapper)

The delicate flavor of the opakapaka is one of the most revered in all of Hawai‘i. They’re light, flaky, and luxurious, and do well either poached, sautéed, steamed, or baked.

Opihi (Limpet)

The Hawaiian shellfish can be eaten raw or cooked and has been considered a prized delicacy on the islands throughout history.

Papio (Jack Trevally)

Rarely found in stores, a fresh caught papio is a favorite in island cooking! They’re light, firm, and flavorful.

Sea Asparagus

Delicious, crunchy, naturally flavored, and fish-free, this superfood sea vegetable has an umami flavor and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that promote heart health and wellness.

Shutome or Mekajiki (Broadbill Swordfish)

The premium grilling fish has a high oil content, rich flavor, and a texture that has been said to resemble premium cuts of beef.

Tombo ‘Ahi or Ahilapaha (Albacore Tuna)

Unlike the canned variety popular on the mainland, tombo ‘ahi is served and prepared fresh on the islands. The high fat content makes them superb for grilling.

Uhu (Parrotfish)

While the rainbow-colored males are the most recognizable, the reddish-brown females are where the flavor is. Bake them whole, in their skin, with just a bit of olive oil, lemon, and salt for a super moist dish.

Ukupalu (Blue-green Snapper)

This snapper is a very versatile fish and is delicious raw or cooked. The pale pink meat is extremely moist, firm, and rich in healthy fish oils. Some chefs say ukupalu is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated of the Hawai‘i bottomfish.

Ula (Spiny Lobster)

The Hawaiian spiny lobster has more meat on their bodies than their New England counterparts. Their sweet tails are traditionally grilled, steamed, or roasted and basted with butter.

Ula‘ula koa‘e or Onaga (Longtail Red Snapper)

The luxury fish is soft and moist with a delicate flavor. The longtail is popular during ceremonial occasions like the New Year’s season or weddings when onaga sashimi is traditionally served.

‘Ulua (Jack Fish)

The ‘ulua is the largest of all jacks and has a sweet flavor and firm texture that can stand up in stir-frys, pastas, and soups.

Enjoy your catch to the fullest at Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, just steps away from Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. In addition to a host of amenities, we have plenty of on-site dining options. Conveniently located on the third floor of Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, facing Kalakaua Avenue and Waikiki Beach, Tiki’s Grill & Bar has garnered accolades from Honolulu Magazine, OpenTable, and a Travelers’ Choice award from Tripadvisor. Guests can enjoy nightly live music and a Pacific Rim menu with flavors of the islands.

Read more about the amazing amenities and exclusive offers at Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel and start booking your travel plans with us in Waikiki.

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