Nico's at Pier 38
I've been wanting to visit Nico's ever since I was tipped off about the place by "Juliana Chaize" via e-mail back in April of this year. At the time, her e-mail indicated that Nico's had been open just six months and that they served delicious gourmet-style plate lunches at drive inn prices. Nico's is located in a mostly industrial area off of Nimitz Highway. See the sign above, take the left turn and you're almost there.
Nico's is literally on the water and is across the way from United Fishing Agency. For those of you who don't know, United Fishing Agency is the home of the Honolulu Fish Auction, the largest auction house in the state. Therefore, if you have a chance to eat the catch-of-the-day at Nico's you know that it will be of the freshest quality.
On my way to the pier, I almost missed the sign taking me to Nico's. You'll know you're there when you see the green awning which covers the outdoor seating area.
Inside the shop, you'll see the menu board on the left as well as a list of the daily specials. The counter is straight ahead with the open kitchen in back. On the right is the drink machine and the condiment stand. After placing my order, I went to secure a table outside. As you can see, it was a gorgeous day and there was lots of outdoor seating. It's cleared up a bit, but when I first arrived, only 2 of the 15 or so tables were unoccupied.
Based on a recommendation from Gail over at Hawaii Diner, I decided to have the Pier 38 double cheeseburger (US$5.75) which comes with your choice of french fries or tossed greens. I chose french fries.
The two "homemade" hamburger patties, melted cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes and red onions are all served on a sesame seed bun. Unlike most of the other local burger places, you can really tell that this is a homemade burger just by looking at the patty -- none of that "uniformly shaped" stuff here. Juicy and perfectly seasoned, this is one of the better burgers that I've had the pleasure of eating. In fact, it was so tasty and juicy, I had to keep licking my fingers after every bite.
Here it comes!
Along with the burger came these crisp golden french fries. The french fries were lightly seasoned with some sea salt (great touch!) and I think parsley flakes (?). Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, these were also cooked just the way I like them.
OK folks. I have to admit that I did go back and I did order the fish, the furikake pan seared ahi with ginger garlic cilantro dip (US$6.95) to be exact. Here it is for you all to enjoy.
It was nice piece of fresh ahi that was coated with furikake then pan-fried to the specified doneness (medium). The fish was tasty, and though I felt that a little less furikake could have been used, it was cooked exactly as I had ordered it. The ginger garlic cilantro dip was nice, but I didn't eat it with the fish. This plate lunch is served with one scoop of white rice and your choice of either mac salad or Nalo greens. Other menu items that sound really tasty are the "Catch of the Day" salad, the fried calamari on Nalo greens with sweet chili dressing and the grilled ahi sandwich. I'll definitely be back to try those.
The food here at Nico's is tasty and incredibly well priced. The portion sizes are perfect for lunch and the burger is one of the best that I've had yet. In fact, I enjoyed the food here so much, this might just become a regular lunchtime hangout.
Nico's at Pier 38
1133 North Nimitz Highway