On a recent trip for a Kamuela staycation, I decided to stop in to Hale I’a (Da Fish House) in Kawaihae (613659 Kawaihae-Mahukona Rd, Waimea, HI 96743) for lunch. I had driven by a few times on previous visits to the dry side, but this was my first time to stop. When I entered the cozy space, I was delighted to see wall-to-wall fish offerings. Da Fish House not only offers numerous types of poke and sides each day, but they also do bentos of cooked catch of the day on either brown or white rice with a choice of sauces. Additionally, they have a fresh case with fresh fish and shellfish you can take home to prepare as you choose.
As I was debating on which sides to go with my two poke choices, I was told that what I thought was a hearts of palm salad was actually abalone poke! Strike the shoyu ahi, add the abalone, because any time you can get good abalone you should. I left with a two-poke combo: wasabi pistachio ahi and the abalone poke on brown rice with a seaweed salad.
I also got the fresh catch on brown rice with two sauces, and a nice piece of Ono for the fish tacos I was going to make for dinner. I am not exaggerating when I say that the food was fantastic, and the abalone poke was life changing. I absolutely love abalone- I’ll order it whenever I see it on a restaurant menu, and I’ll occasionally stop by Big Island Abalone to pick some up on my way home from the airport to prepare in various ways. This abalone was perfectly tender, and the combination with cucumber, tomato, green onion, and the lightest of seasonings allowed the abalone flavor to shine.
I would have gotten lunch from Da Fish House every day, but alas, it was our last day before coming back to rainland. The Ono I purchased to go with my Kauai shrimp for tacos that evening was so fresh and delicate I could tell it had been pulled from the ocean that morning. I guarantee that the next time I am anywhere near Kawaihae when they are open, I will be back.
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