There are certain times in a person’s life when you have that deep down palate-watering craving for fish and chips. And I’m not talking delicate, flakey lemon caper mac nut-encrusted filet in a white wine reduction. No, I’m talking hot-n-greasy-napkin-soaking-burn-your-fingers-fish-n-chips.
It’s this random craving that keeps fish restaurants in business (I mean, come on—how many people eat fish and chips everyday?). And it’s this random craving that brings hundreds of tourists and locals to the little dive on the corner of Baldwin and Hana Hwy in Paia. Just the other day this craving landed me in a line 20 deep and out the door at The Fish Market.
It was hot as hell. I’m sweating, Mr. Man in front of me is sweating, the cashier is sweating and the cooks are most definitely sweating. I’m tempted to walk out the door and seek out some breeze but then I look at the sweating man eating fish while sitting beside me and I remember why I came.
The colorful menu above the counter helps: Ahi! Ono! Mahi! Lehi! Opa! Uku! All fresh and ready to go! I quickly contemplate the pastas—choice of chicken or fish—because it’s topped with white sauce. My favorite! Sandwiches and burgers (chicken or fish) look good, too, but I’m totally filet-o-fished out after my road trip last week.
Then I catch a glimpse of the South of the Border Fish Quesadilla and my mouth begins to water. Or was it the smell of fried food emanating in the greasy air? That would be the classic Fish and Chips. Do they have Chicken and Chips? Why not?
Finally the sweaty woman takes my order: Mahi Fish and Chips and a soda, which comes to $10.89. I sit down on one of the long picnic type tables next to a group of sweaty German windsurfers and wait. The communal aspect of the eating grounds make me a little uncomfortable so I pass the time looking at the old fishing photos framed on the wall.
Finally they call my name. My food is ready. The first bite of deep fried Mahi satisifies my random craving. Warm flavors and grease… just what I wanted.
Also with that first bite is that not so comfortable burning sensation on the top of my mouth that comes when you eat food too soon after it’s been fried. But I continue, wanting more of that delicious fish. The French fries are perfect, too—not too thick, not too soft. They’re crispy, but not too crispy.
By now my mind has forgotten the heat and the sweat and the communal dining. I’m in accelerated enjoyment mode and I eat fast before that greasy food feeling comes and I regret the whole thing.
That leaves just the coleslaw. I’ve always said there are two kinds of people in this world: those who like coleslaw and those who don’t. I’m a Don’t, but for the sake of this story I taste it. It’s simple, light and satisfying. A little too juicy, but good.E
At this point I can feel that greasy food feeling coming on, so I get up to walk off the calories on the Paia streets. I’m now fully satisfied. That is, until the next random fish and chips craving comes around. MTW