The restaurant taking over Broadway’s Pieology space will celebrate the Asian melting pot cuisine of Hawaii. Smokin Fire Fish, the casual, island-themed restaurant set to open this fall, comes from chef Chris Cha, a Korean-American Orange County restaurant alum who spent years of his life in Hawaii and Asia. Cha’s menu will serve everything from ahi poke to galbi ribs.
Cooking as early as three years old with his grandmother, Cha quickly fell in love with modern Hawaiian food’s multitude of cultural ties. “You’ll go to one restaurant, you’ll find Japanese, Filipino, even Puerto Rican food, and that’s not weird. If you see that on the mainland, you’ll say, ‘These folks are kind of confused.’ But for me, it was a no-brainer,” he says. “Koreans arrived in Hawaii in 1903, and my opinion is, we went there in such small numbers, we had to co-mingle culturally. When you sat there and ate, you had this melting pot of cultures, and this melting pot cuisine developed.”
Smoking Fire Fish’s menu will be similarly eclectic. Expect dishes like plates of katsu curry and an oven-smoked kalua pork, as well as Korean fried chicken and Puerto Rican pastele stew. Cha is also set on providing a smattering of permanent and rotating pokes and raw fish bowls, including kimchi tako, steelhead poke, and ahi poke. Ahi was a must for Cha; ahi poke was how he first fell in love with the dish, and the tuna is behind the story of the name. “Back in the day, Hawaiians fished with twine. When they caught a tuna, the twine would rub against the boat and it would smoke, and the fishermen would say ‘ahi,’ or fire (in Hawaiian), when a tuna was on the line,” he explains. “The love affair I have with tuna, that’s why I picked that name.” Smoking Fire Fish will open between mid-October and November at 3258 NE Broadway (Pieology was using the incorrect address, according to Cha).