Fish Express

The pick-up counter at Fish Express in Lihue. Photo by David Lansing.

If I had to eat at just one place on Kauai for a month no doubt my choice would be The Fish Express on the road headed north out of Lihue. Every time I go in there, my mouth starts watering and I am just paralyzed trying to figure out what I want. And that’s just not the way I usually operate. I’m one of those people who picks up a menu and makes a decision within two minutes. But at Fish Express it’s like, Do I want the wasabi poke or one of the bento boxes or fish tacos or….It’s all good. And incredibly fresh. All the seafood comes in from local boats. Which is why you can’t plan on getting your favorite mahi mahi sandwich because they might not have mahi mahi today.

And here’s the thing: As good as the food is here, you have to get it to go. There’s no place to sit down and eat. Not even outside. Which is just punishing because as soon as they hand you over your Hawaiian plate of kalua pork with lomi salmon and rice, you want to dig in. But no can do.

Still, the place is always jammed. And almost exclusively by locals. There are these big burly road construction workers and nurses from the hospital across the road and all the cable and electric service guys. There are secretaries coming in and picking up orders for the whole office and surfers who, like me, can’t seem to make up their minds. But god it’s good.

So after my helicopter tour I was starving and immediately headed for Fish Express. Since it was almost two, there weren’t too many people in there (the back kitchen, or “Da Grill,” as they call it, only operates from 10 to 2 Mondays through Fridays). Like I said, I wanted to order one of everything but eventually my choice came down to furikake crusted ahi over Kilauea greens or their special of the day, ahi poke rolls. Eventually I went with the furikake ahi. I took my bulging Styrofoam container up to the Wailua Falls overlook and sat in the shady parking lot pigging out. That furikake ahi broke da mouth, bro.

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