Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Chong Cha Yi, right, and fish cutter Joe Bigao, of Mura's Fish and Meat Market at the Ward Farmers Market, looked yesterday at a block of sashimi selling for $19 per pound.

Sashimi in good supply
for New Year

The larger stock is pushing prices down,
some fish sellers say

Star-Bulletin staff

The prediction for sashimi is that it will be plentiful and affordable for New Year's celebrations.

"This year (compared with last), there's a larger supply," Brooks Takenaka, assistant manager at the fish auction house United Fishing Agency, said yesterday. "There's more fish available, so it's more affordable and there will be more choices available."

There will be a surge of sashimi-buying early today, and Takenaka said catch arriving later yesterday should be able to meet the demand.

"We got some pretty nice stuff," Takenaka said, adding that fish not falling in the top sashimi grade will still be "good stuff."

An informal survey of fish markets yesterday showed that sashimi prices ranged from about $30 per pound for premium grade to as low as about $10 a pound for lesser grade.

Alfred Muraoka, manager of Mura's Fish and Meat Market at the Ward Farmer's Market, said he was selling some "pretty good" ahi for $10.95 a pound and some "good-quality" sashimi for $18.95. His premium grade has been selling for $24 to $30 a pound.

Muraoka said that this year, there are a lot more "decent grades for a cheaper price."

Costco stores, which are selling sashimi for the first time this year, were doing brisk business yesterday selling the traditional New Year's pupu.

"They are doing phenomenal," according to Robert Loomis, the Iwilei store manager.

The stores were selling sashimi for $9.99 a pound, and large platters of sashimi were $30 each.

The platters are expected to be available today.

Garrett Kitazaki, a buyer and vice president of Diamond Head Seafood Co., was pleased with catch ranging in sizes and quality this year.

"I'm very happy. This year, we've been blessed with good weather and the availability of tuna close to the islands. The more tuna, the better the overall market is taken care of."

While sashimi is in good supply, the windy weather has led to shortages and higher prices for other local favorites, such as red onaga, ehu and opakapaka.

Guy Tamashiro, veteran fish buyer for the family-run Tamashiro Market in Kalihi, said he found a lot of ahi to supply the low-end market -- some under $10 a pound -- and a lot of high-end ahi, which will probably go for $27 to $30 a pound.

The prices, he warned, are not guaranteed, as consumer demand dictates the cost.

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