Going up: plenty ‘ahi out there, but it’s going to cost you

LIHU’E — New Year’s Eve is this Saturday, Dec. 31, but The Fish Express bristled with activity from earlier this week.

A fillet of ‘ahi sat prominently displayed in the refrigerated case, touting a price tag of $14.99 per pound Tuesday.

This price will climb as the countdown to New Year’s begins, those at several establishments said. Demand is high, because according to tradition throughout the Orient, the red meat is a sign of good luck and prosperity in the new year.

Troy Wada of The Fish Express said the supply should be good, as it’s been in the past several New Year’s, and he estimates prices at The Fish Express will probably hover around $17 per pound for sashimi ‘ahi for New Year.

Wada said they buy the fish for the same price as other vendors, but The Fish Express prices will remain at a level where they just break even.

“The prices in Honolulu will be higher than our prices because they can,” Wada said.

“The supply is good, but the demand is always high (for New Year).”

“We just break even,” Wada said. “We could make money, but it’s the one time we can give back to all the customers who support us throughout the year.

So, we just charge enough to cover the cost.”

Wada added that other fish that are popular in New Year celebrations include steaming fishes such as onaga and opakapaka, which are also in good supply currently.

The Fish Express will be open on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

“We’re going to be busy,” Wada cautioned. “But, the supplies are good.”

At Safeway Food & Drug in Kaua’i Village shopping center in Waipouli, a pound of ‘ahi fillet was going for $19.99, and the demand was brisk, said Joel Miyashiro, seafood clerk.

They’ve been selling out of the ‘ahi fillet, but have frozen ‘ahi poke for $9.99 a pound, which has also been selling well and is readily available, Miyashiro said.

At another local market, ‘ahi fillet, with the skin still on it, is selling for $8 a pound, though a lot of that weight is lost when the fillet is cut for sashimi purposes.

Those at The Fish Express, Safeway, and other markets are predicting prices will rise as the holiday nears.

Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@kauaipubco.com.

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