Flying Fish finds Fenwick famished
Blame it on Al Chu. Mikimoto’s and Stingray’s executive sushi chef welcomed me into his Sushi 101 class, and things haven’t been the same since. I am no longer frightened by (or avoiding eye contact with) various and sundry marine creatures that have managed to sidestep the pleasures of a skillet, a fryer or an oven. Yet I still look askance at that unsettling disclaimer at the bottom of menus - you know, the one about consuming raw stuff and the perils associated therewith. Yuck.
But Chef Al (as he changed his plastic gloves about 50 times during the class) made it clear that dabbling in the realm of vinegared rice, seaweed, Sriracha and barely hours-old seafood need not be a gastronomic minefield if things are handled properly. So no, I might not invest in the plastic-wrapped package of sushi on the counter of my local gas station, but I will trust the trained artisans, chefs and line cooks who steam, chop, roll and drizzle day after day without triggering even one unfortunate funeral.
Armed with my newfound knowledge and my trusty pair of stainless steel chopsticks (how else can I put them in the dishwasher!?), I was just about to respond to the 100 or so emails I had received about Misaki restaurant in Bethany Beach. Apparently this was (and probably still is) one of the go-to spots for pescaphiles in the southern hinterlands. But then people started emailing me about a new place in Fenwick Island. It’s called Flying Fish Café, and, ironically enough, it’s co-owned by a former sushi chef and a former server from Misaki. Even more ironically, the previous owner now works as a sushi chef at Flying Fish Café.
Co-owner Barry Kruemmel makes his mission clear: “I don’t want to be known as a sushi restaurant. I want to be known as a good restaurant that serves good sushi.” He, along with partner Lisa Hart and sushi chef Kiyomi Yamanaka (aka Chef Yama) has crafted a menu that keeps every seat filled just about every night. All the basics are there, including the standard rolls and popular sashimi options, but where Flying Fish Café shines is in the premium rolls department. In fact, I had one of the best sushi experiences I’ve ever had during my recent visits to this hard-to-find but well-worth-the-search eatery.
I have added Kruemmel’s Bangkok Dangerous and Mobster Lobster rolls to my list of local must-haves on the Delaware coast. Admittedly, both involve cooked seafood, but that’s not why I ordered them. I ordered them because my Bethany Beach friend, exercise fanatic and Fitness by Lisa trainer Lisa Velasco told me to. She could very easily beat me up, so I am properly obedient when I’m around her. The Bangkok Dangerous envelops crispy fried tuna and salmon, but the truth is in the toppings: A muddled pepper blend harmonizes with lump crab, a Thai-inspired sprinkle, and thin-as-air jalapeño rings. (The adventurous can substitute habaneros for the relatively tame jalapeños.)
As far as I’m concerned, the Mobster Lobster includes all four essential food groups: chunky New England lobster salad, jalapeno peppers, avocado and spicy tuna. And trust me; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few other shining stars on the menu, including the Spider Roll (crispy softshell!), the Bermuda Roll (toasted coconut and pineapple), the Filet of Beef Negimaki (think braciole with a Japanese accent) and the amazing sweet and spicy lettuce wraps (in the spirit of Saketumi’s popular Lettuce Wrap & Roll).
So if you’re feeling Japanese down near the Mason-Dixon Line, and Saketumi, Stingray, Cultured Pearl, Sushi Heaven and Tokyo Steakhouse are out of reach, give Flying Fish Café a try. It's tucked into the Village of Fenwick mini-mall just a couple of blocks north of Route 54. There's even a patio on the canal where you can kayak, paddleboard or swim for your carryout. Make reservations at 302-581-0217.