Ever since opening in 1970, The Dolphin has been a popular spot for seafood on the North Shore of Kauai. Originally a fish market and causal restaurant known for their fresh cuts of ahi, sushi was added to their menu in 2009 and is considered by most to be the best in the area. Located off Kuhio Hwy as you enter Hanalei, this sushi lounge tucked into the corner of the restaurant is overseen by executive sushi Chef Jeff Benson. His playful creations such as U-Megan-Me-Crazy (Sesame seeds, spicy shrimp, tuna, avocado and asparagus), OVER THE TOP Rainbow Poke (Premium cuts of tuna, salmon, white fish and avocado) served with his “Broke Da Mouth” sauce keeps this place packed. If you can’t get a table in the 22-seat lounge not to worry, you can order sushi in the main dining room and outdoor seating area. Vibe: Somewhere between a tiki lounge and beach shack. Lanterns and fish paraphernalia adorn the ceiling and the wait-staff comprised mainly of local surfers are friendly and energetic. The outdoor bar gets lively on weekends and is a popular spot for locals. They don’t take reservations so be sure to arrive early on weekends and during the high season as the wait can be long.
Menu: The fish is the star and all other ingredients are there to help make sure it gets the credit it deserves. Nothing is doused in sauce or fried to a crisp. From a daily selection of sashimi to more unique appetizers of Hamachi Kama (grilled yellowtail cheek) everything is light and fresh.
Not to Miss: The Flyin’ Hawaiian, one of their “over the top” rolls featuring tempura battered spicy soft shell crab, avocado, cucumber, white and green onion wrapped in soy paper and topped with Hamachi. $24
Skinny Chi Chi – A Pina Colada with half the calories! This cocktail is made with coconut water, pineapple juice, and coconut vodka. Sit at the bar or at an outside table overlooking the river as you sip this guilt free concoction. $13 5-5016 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii 96714 808-826-6113
by Leela Linder
Photos from The Dolphin's website