Nico's Pier 38 is located on N Nimitz Hwy in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Apparently it's been so long since I went here that I actually forgot I ate here before. I did a blog post on Nico's in June 2011, and because it's been a while, the pictures on that post no longer work.
My second cousin came to visit, and I hadn't seen her in about seven years. She likes seafood, so Nico's was one of the first spots that came to mind.
During COVID-19, they had a touchless temperature check near the entrance. No fevers in our party of seven. Tables were spaced out, but most of the seats were taken up at the bar area without much social distancing. All employees wore masks.
The menu naturally has many seafood items, but there were options for non-seafood eaters, including pizza and a cheeseburger. Their menu board just outside the entrance has rotating dinner specials.
For appetizers, we started with the Poke Sampler ($22). Small portions of limu poke, shoyu poke, and spicy poke. The dish even had some smoked (cooked) fish on the board, which we initially did not realize was on there. I thought the smoked fish was one of the best items on there, smoky but not overwhelming, while retaining sufficient moisture. Each of the poke samplers had fresh fish, cut wonderfully. As usual, the spicy poke is not overly spicy, and virtually anyone could enjoy it.
Next was the Angry Ahi Dip ($13) served with wonton chips. The dip combined a rich ahi confit with a secret spice blend, tomatoes, and green onions. Despite its name, there was no detectable heat on this one. Texture reminded me of a typical tuna spread.
We chose Truffle Fries ($9) as the third appetizer. Very good fries, slightly crisp on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. Just a hint of the truffle oil, and I don't know if everyone would be able to detect it. This was served with ketchup on the side.
As for my main course, I ordered the Grilled Peppercorn Swordfish ($20). It was a green peppercorn and five-herb marinated grilled swordfish, served with sauce vierge, veggies, and garlic mashed potatoes, Excellent grilling on the swordfish. Sauce vierge at least livened the dish up, a refreshing salsa-like addition to counter the creamy, buttery garlic mashed potatoes. Overall, a solid dish.
My mom got a Margherita pizza ($14). Good sauce and excellent crust, but for me, this dish had more negatives than positives. The cheese had coagulated by the time it got to our table, probably from sitting at the pass too long. I didn't see much basil anywhere, likely hidden somewhere. To me, no need to add arugula on top. I forgot to take a photo, but I'm sure Yelp will have photos of a better pizza than we got.
For dessert, a delicious Passion Mango Cheesecake ($6.50). Creamy, rich, and tangy. Passion fruit and mango are ideal choices to have in Hawaii. Even a small portion is probably good enough after having an appetizer and main course. To me, a perfect way to end the night.
Nico's is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When I went, these were the usual hours:
- 6:30 AM to 10 AM: Breakfast (but not on Sunday)
- 10 AM to 4 PM: Lunch
- 4 PM to 5 PM: Pupus (just appetizers and happy hour)
- 5 PM to 9 PM: Dinner
At the time of this blog post, breakfast was takeout only and COVID restrictions limited indoor seating capacity.
I'll stick with my original rating of Nico's that I issued ten years ago. For these prices, virtually every dish would have needed to be a major home run to get this in my upper echelon of food spots. 7/10