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Flying Fish Cafe

/ Updated on July 23, 2017

I have a category called “Hidden Gems” in my travel app, Rehoboth In My Pocket. It gives me an excuse to recommend exceptional stores, services, activities and restaurants that are outside of the Rehoboth, Dewey and Lewes area. 2015's brand new redesign of Rehoboth In My Pocket definitely includes Flying Fish Cafe in Fenwick Island. It qualifies on all three counts: It's south of Rehoboth, it's definitely hidden, and our experiences so far have proven it to be exceptional.

My intrepid crew of sushiphiles includes former Stingray GM Andrea Herman (now the esteemed GM of the new Crab House), Mikimoto's/Stingray's executive sushi chef Al Chu, Bethany exercise fanatic, training guru and all-around cutiepie Lisa Velasco, and Rehoboth's own Renee Butler Wright (aka, “She who dwells amongst the grills & smokers”). Thanks to their patient tutelage, I am now confident in my knowledge of what's good and what's not-so-good in the realm of vinegared rice, maki, sashimi and sundry marine creatures who have never experienced a fryer, skillet or oven. Heck, I can even make a sushi roll all by myself!

In keeping with its hidden gem status, Flying Fish Cafe is tucked away in the red siding-clad Village of Fenwick and is not visible from the highway. Driving south, turn right at West Maryland Avenue (1 block before Rt. 54) and make an immediate right into the parking lot. You'll see the sign from there. Or, you can engage in aquatic takeout simply by kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding or swimming (if you really like sushi that much) up to their patio by the canal.

Co-owner and chef Barry Kruemmel trained under Kiyomi Yamanaka (“Chef Yama”), the former owner and head sushi chef at Misaki in York Plaza in South Bethany. Kruemmel, along with co-owner Lisa Hart, have reinvented the traditional concept of sushi and sashimi and taken it to new and tasty heights. I'll tell you right now that one of those heights is the Bangkok Dangerous. More about that later. Baby steps. By the way, recent legal developments have resulted in the sad exit of the talented Chef Yama. But Barry is still battin' a thousand.

UPDATE! Yes, Flying Fish is indeed battin' a thousand, and two recent visits in late fall 2014 attest to that. The food is as good as ever, and it looks like Barry might institute a reservations only paradigm for next season. Apparently this review created a stampede to the tiny place there in Fenwick. Can't say I don't like the sound of that….

Barry always has specials and surprises, but he wisely keeps the mainstays on the menu, like the Bangkok Dangerous and the Lobster Mobster. But our Halloween Roll last night (apparently a seasonal special) was delicious, as were the very cute and crunchy Tuna Tostadas. The Torpedos of Tuna and of Hamachi were both as beautiful to look at as they were to eat. Two extraordinary specials of Hamachi Cheek, and Handrolls of Fried Salmon Skin, Fresh Salmon with Tobiko, Avocado, and … wait for it … a Quail Egg, were both perfect.

Red Snapper Daikon Carpaccio and a textural rollercoaster of a dessert consisting of red bean and green tea Mochi were all big surprises and quite good. And do not miss the Lobster Poppers. They are delicious. I have added some of the new dishes and specials to the photo gallery, so don your bunny slippers, pour yourself a good saki, grab your chopsticks and scroll through the photos. They'll make you hungry. DOn't forget to call for reservations, especially on off-season weekends. I will now return you to the program already in progress….

Frosty Sapporos firmly in hand, we started with the Sweet & Spicy Lettuce Wraps. Delicately crunchy rice noodles are sequestered nearby so they don't get soggy during the trek from kitchen to table. DIY noodles properly sprinkled, the cool romaine leaf imparts a fresh crispness to the seasoned and simmered pork. A polite spoon of chili oil was the perfect exclamation point for those who dared (I dared and used it all up). I could eat two of these orders as a main course. The dish is a taste, temperature and textural roller coaster and well worth the $12 admission.

One of the specials in the small plate dept. was Blackened Scallops piled with chunks of lobster and an impossibly delicious Roasted Red Pepper Creme. The scallops were perfectly seared and spiced, and that sauce … all I can say is that it's lighter than it looks in the photo, and there was a whole lot more in there than just roasted red peppers. You should hope that these are on the menu when you go.

Another special that we devoured as an appetizer was the Mushroom Caps (courtesy of co-owner Lisa, who Misaki fans will remember as one of the star waitrons) stuffed with tiger shrimp, spinach, artichokes, red peppers, blue cheese and who knows what the heck else. Casey (our super server) brought 6 “because they were small.” From that point it was survival of the fittest (or is that the fattest?!).

A menu staple that is not to be missed is the Marinated Seafood Salad. Think ceviche but with lots of fresh veggies. Sesame lime oil tops it off, with the citric acid denaturing the octopus, squid, scallop and shrimp mixture in true ceviche fashion. Always be sure of (and comfortable with!) any place where you order ceviche! Because of the method used to “cook” the fish without heat, only the very best quality product and preparation techniques can be used. You can trust Barry and Chef Yama. These guys bring a combined 40+ years of experience to the Japanese kitchen. ‘Nuff said.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: An early summer 2015 visit to Flying Fish found the place as crowded, noisy and fun as ever. Barry and his crew of sushi boys were crankin' the rolls out like there was no tomorrow. The place is as good as ever and everyone I take there loves it. ‘Nuff said.

So just what the heck is a Bangkok Dangerous? It is quite possibly one of the tastiest rolls I have ever had. Tuna and salmon are lightly fried and then topped with a muddled blend of peppers. Lump crab is added, topped with a dollop of spicy mayo (did I taste Sriracha?) and drizzled with yet another sweet and spicy Thai-style sauce. Barry doubled the jalapeno toppings for me. I would have normally chosen the habaneros, but it was early in the meal and I didn't want to drown out the taste buds quite that soon. But know that the habs are there for the asking. This is yet another carnival in your mouth with its own bracing combination of tastes, textures and temperatures.

Take another look at the Bangkok Dangerous photo. See the roll in the foreground on the right (the one without the green jalapenos)? That is the Mobster Lobster. Long before our first visit to Flying Fish Cafe, I was receiving emails about this thing. Do you like New England lobster rolls? Spicy tuna? Crispy tempura? Cool avocado? This one's got it all. It's hard to describe the taste because all the ingredients add up to much more than just what they are. It's a flavor all its own, with warm bits of tempura playing counterpoint to the cool, creamy lobster salad in harmony with the bright jalapeno bits and savory tuna. Another winner in the “premium rolls” column.

In addition to the 16 or so combination rolls with tantalizing names like “The Fireball,” The Eel Deal,” and “Rainbow,” the standard rolls are all there, including cucumber, California, smoked salmon, crabstick, tobiko (love it when they pop in your mouth!), hamachi, asparagus, crab and all the rest. You can even substitute soy paper for the seaweed wrappers for just a buck per roll.

Two tasty non-roll plates include the Pan Crisp'd Gyoza Dumplings and the Filet of Beef Negimaki. Gyoza indicates the potsticker-style wrapper that makes the dumpling … well, a dumpling … and is the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese jiaozi. Each savory little pillow sports a mouthwatering crust, accompanied by a sweet/tart dipping sauce and a mound of brightly colored carrot and cabbage. I love the mouth-feel of the somewhat thicker gyoza wrapper.

Filet of Beef Negimaki plate borders on artwork. Thinly sliced and seared beef encases scallions and ginger hoisin sauce and rests languidly on a palm leaf. Both dishes make for the perfect dinner, especially if a dining companion allows you to filch a bite of a roll or two without puncturing your paw with a fork.

Desserts are the brainchild of none other than Kings Creek Country Club fitness director (who wooda thought!?) Casey Vosburg. This multi-talented proprietor of “Casey's Cakes” had two delightful dishes available on the night we ordered dessert. The first was a Pineapple Upside-down Cake and the other was Key Lime Cheesecake. I have never liked pineapple upside-down cake because it's so cloyingly sweet. This one was not. Instead, it was redolent of vanilla with a soft, not-too-citrusy edge of pineapple. It was delicious. In the same spirit, the cheesecake was not overwhelmingly tart with lime, which allowed the taste of the eggs and vanilla to shine through.

After our visits, I called the restaurant to verify a few ingredients and had the pleasure of speaking to Barry. This guy is jazzed by what he is doing, and seems to love every minute of it. The last thing he wants to be known as is a “sushi place.” And other than the little soy sauce pots on the table and a lone Japanese print mounted near the bar, this could be pretty much any upscale tapas joint. “I really don't want to be known as a sushi bar,” says Kruemmel, “I want to be known as a good restaurant that happens to serve sushi.”

The Village of Fenwick mini-mall has an official address of 300 Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island. Flying Fish Cafe is in the middle walkway on the Maryland Ave. side where the big parking lot is located. The patio at the rear of the building overlooks the canal that connects to Lighthouse Cove.

Flying Fish is open nightly in the off-season from 5-9 (or so) and is open for lunch from noon to 3 only on Saturdays and Sundays. Check out the sushi and sashimi selection here. In-season hours will certainly be longer, so be sure to call 302-581-0217 to check. See the premium rolls menu by clicking here.

The place is perpetually crowded, pretty noisy and very festive. You're gonna love it. (L. (S/S), D).

Yes, I gave Flying Fish Cafe a rare 5 stars for food. Remember — the ratings are not comparisons of one place to another. That wouldn't make sense, given the different types of places reviewed here at RehobothFoodie.com. The ratings tell you if the restaurant is what it claims to be, and does what it is supposed to do in a professional manner. Think of it as the “bang for the buck” index. The overall rating suffered slightly because, like many small restaurants, there is no vestibule to temper the rush of cold (or hot) air when people enter, and when it's crowded the room becomes an echo chamber. That can be easily resolved with some acoustic treatment. In the meantime, order another Sapporo and enjoy.

The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

Add Your Comment
  1. Avatar Lucie Hartfield says:

    Flying Fish did it again… a fabulous meal for a difficult group to please… two sushi lovers, a vegan and two non-sushi guests. As always, the sushi selections were fresh and perfectly executed. The Chef prepared a vegetable tempura most enjoyed by our vegan friend…and by all of us. The non-sushi guests had plenty to choose from the menu such as the crab soup, a nice selection of small plates “not so small”, etc. Let’s not forget the apple pie bread pudding… Another enjoyable evening at Flying Fish.

  2. Avatar Jude says:

    FFC has become a fan favorite of mine since reading your first review. The lettuce wraps are a must get item. The only bad thing about them I have to share them with my husband. The Hamachi bomb is my personal favorite but the Collosal Crab runs a very slim second.
    Barry, Lisa, and the rest of their talented team are truly amazing!

  3. Avatar Robin says:

    Just got to the Flying Fish Cafe a week ago. It’s as good as the best sushi places in the DC area. Loved everything and don’t forget to order the fresh wasabi! Very welcoming owners and staff.

  4. Avatar Will & David says:

    We drive all the way from Lewes to eat at this place. Now it’s going to be even harder to get a seat! BTW, don’t forget their pretty good selection of craft beers……..

  5. Avatar Bill & Jenna in OC says:

    You found our secret hideout! Yes, it’s a great restaurant, but now we will never get a seat, thanks to you……
    But we are looking forward to sitting on the patio in the summer with our seafood/veggie tempura, a new york roll and a flying fish salad. LOVE the seared salmon.

  6. Avatar Dave Radicevich says:

    The Flying Fish is the real deal. It’s as good as it gets!

  7. Avatar T&T says:

    Well it’s about time, foodie. My wife and I have been making the drive down to Fenwick for several months now. Every time we go we really like it there. You didn’t mention the house salad (another Lisa creation) — with wasabi croutons! Try it.

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