SF Bay Area
Food and drink that has us seeing gold
The first time I spotted a photo from Maguro Brothers on my Instagram scroll, I knew I had to visit. So fast forward a month later when I was on Oahu visiting family, I quickly put the address in Google maps and headed there for a late lunch. They close at 3:00 p.m. and it was already 2:15 p.m. by the time I was heading over, so was already off to a bit of a late start. As the GPS boldly announced that I arrived at my destination, I parked the car in Honolulu’s Chinatown, stepped out of the car, and then looked all around. I couldn't find it. Where was it? It was now approaching 2:40 p.m. and I started to slightly panic. I set my mind and appetite on that unfiltered tempting poke visual for lunch and now there was a chance I was not even going to find this place. Ugh, a literal hidden gem, I thought.
Finally after pulling up a set of detailed directions on the web, I found myself in front of the Kekaulike Marketplace - Maguro Brother’s stand is located inside towards the center, back.
As I entered, I let out a huge sigh of relief as I saw a clear ocean blue Maguro Brothers sign and approached a counter with giant slabs of fresh ahi tuna and hamachi (yellowtail) in a refrigerated glass case. There were also several made-to-order types of poke varieties listed on the menu to choose from. Now my only problem was going to be deciding what to order. It all looked and sounded inviting. I wanted to order everything.
Brothers Junichiro and Ryojiro Tsuchiya originally from Kawasaki, Japan were both behind the counter running their team operation with one taking customer’s orders while the other was preparing the plates. In the tight, adjoining space were several small wooden tables for guests to sit down and enjoy their lunch. And although a modest environment, what came out of the kitchen is far from ordinary. Vibrant sashimi and poke on beds of rice, and cooked items such as grilled ahi belly and togarashi peppered ahi steak graced the tables. Customers looked happy and were digging gleefully into their lunches.
If you want to truly taste the beauty of what comes out of the local Hawaiian waters, first go for the raw and if you have more room, order the hot dishes. Just don’t take the chance like I did and go near closing time. It’s a hidden gem you surely won’t want to miss and as Honolulu’s Chinatown becomes more and more popular and gentrified, parking is a bit tougher and you want to arrive there early to grab some of the daily specials. On a recent follow-up visit, I added the fresh-caught uni (sea urchin) to my plate and natto (fermented soy beans) as well. The prices at Maguro Brothers are extremely affordable with the high-quality poke, donburi, and cooked items all priced below $11 before add ons. See chalkboard menu below and enjoy! Oh, and please say Aloha to a glorious Hawaiian sunset for me.
1039 Kekaulike Street at Kekaulike Market (stall #113) Chinatown, Honolulu, Hawaii
Monday - Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.