By Anni Caporuscio
The Dolphin Restaurant in Hanalei celebrates all things fish. It has a Fish Market for customers to take home fresh fish; the Sushi Lounge is a contemporary bright light of sushi creations; and the restaurant itself is an artful fine dining experience.
There’s something for everyone and for every occasion.
Manager Morgan Duran gave me a tour of the facility, starting with the Fish Market, on the backside of the Dolphin complex. She describes it as a gourmet-to-go place. Besides taking home fresh fish, you can also create a whole meal. Everything you need is right there, including salads, oils, sauces, seasonings, cheeses, rolls, skewers, poke, sushi and more. It’s kind of special, to grab a rustic meal and enjoy the Hanalei sunset.
The restaurant’s main dining area is all art and unpretentiously romantic. It’s a meticulously maintained big jungle shack with a warm and creative attention to detail, ideal Hawaiiana. Nautical features cover the doors, the storm shutters are brightly painted with ocean creatures, and nets hold the lighting.
The level of service reflects that the staff has been there a long time, and they are clearly proud of their work and knowledgeable of the menu. Though the menu is stacked pretty heavily with seafood, there are steaks, chicken dishes and vegetarian cuisine as well.
And the Sushi Lounge is a bright and lively contemporary zone. It features the art of Doug Britt. The close tables add to the togetherness vibe of great sushi lounges everywhere. The sushi chefs here are known for their creativity. You can order great rolls off the menu, the freshest of sashimi, or if you’re feeling adventurous and full of sake, ask them to get creative. We were surprised by scallop lollipops!
I also want to mention the outdoor seating at the Hanalei Dolphin. Under umbrellas, sitting at a stone table with the manicured tropical plants, right next to the lazy Hanalei river, enjoying the dimming of the day with a cocktail and a loved one: It was divine.
The Dolphin is in “the first and last stop” of Hanalei. Owners Beatrice and Douglas Allen recently opened a second location at The Shops at Kukui‘ula in Po‘ipu.
The Fish Market is open daily 10 a.m-7 p.m. Lunch service is 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Drinks and appetizers is 3-5:30 p.m. Dinner in the dining room and the Sushi Lounge is 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. Enjoy drinks, apps and sushi outside, weather permitting. They don’t take reservations.
Visit www.hanaleidolphin.com for more information.
- Anni Caporuscio is a food lover and can be found daily at her Kapa‘a business, Small Town Coffee.