Pan-Seared Ahi with Furikake and Garlic, $8 LAWRENCE TABUDLO PHOTOS

2570 S. Beretania St.
Phone number(808) 372-2930

Whenever I try a new place, I instinctually have my guard up.

(My boyfriend tells me it is our body’s natural response to protect ourselves from anything new in our environment that may bring us harm. I say he watches too much TV, and that really, it’s just because things aren’t always what you expect.)

So when I heard about Ahi Assassins Fish Co., I went through a series of emotions. Its motto, “Caught here, not brought here,” is an attractive one, but didn’t do anything to assuage my trepidation. Cutting fish, however fresh, into cubes and adding different sauces and toppings may seem easy, but it’s something that quickly can go awry.

Ahi Assassins, though, seasons its poke well. Every bite is tender and succulent and unlike frozen fish, it doesn’t have an overpowering, lingering fishy flavor. Variations here don’t stray from typical local staples, such as shoyu garlic and spicy ahi, so sticking with what you usually order at any other place would work just fine.

Husband-and-wife owners Joshua Schade and Erika Luna utilize fish they catch with their crew. Typically, they bring in about 1,000 pounds a week. If their own supply runs out, they source it from local fishermen, and if that still isn’t enough, Schade prefers to shut down for the day.

“There’s no fishy business in our fish business,” Schade quips.

Because of this boat-to-table concept, items on the hot specials menu are constantly changing. There are hits and misses. Offerings like Ahi Katsu and Mahimahi Nuggets disguise the true textures of the fish, instead making them feel and taste like chicken.

But the Pan-Seared Ahi, which is cooked with furikake and garlic, is delicious. Schade, a third-generation fisherman, really displays his innate expertise by cooking it perfectly — enough for the garlic to brown, while allowing the inside to remain supple and bright red.

But I’ve seen and tried those dishes at most seafood restaurants on the island. To be fair, Ahi Assassins has only been open for about a month, but it has yet to truly find a niche in the island seafood scene.

There is, however, one item I have not been able to stop craving and would like to go back for: Smoked Marlin Dip. With in-house smoked marlin, it is, to put it briefly, seriously good.

Ahi Assassins also sells whole fish and filets, and is available for catering needs or large orders. Everything is sold on a first come, first serve basis, so Schade and Luna recommend pre-orders.

Follow Ahi Assassins on Instagram and Facebook for updates, and a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant and out at sea.