By Caitlin Marino
Although originally starting as just a Facebook fan page where sushi lovers could rejoice, International Sushi Day has grown to become a total foodie phenomenon and is annually celebrated on June 18 (…as if we needed another excuse to indulge in our favorite Japanese cuisine.) While Doral may not necessarily be the first place you think of when strategizing on top sushi destinations, the city’s recent (and developing) culinary boom brings some new, affordable and enticing options. As my first contributing gig, I ventured over to Kona Grill located in the newly developed dining area of Dolphin Mall to get a head start on the celebratory festivities. Opening their first location in South Florida, Kona Grill is already an established brand throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and boasts an incredibly robust menu to satisfy the pallets of all dining guests, from sushi fans to those who might prefer a more traditional American meal.
Focusing solely on the options available at the sushi bar, I started off with a simple yet always-a-favorite Tuna Carpaccio and a delicious Salmon Wasabi Sashimi. The sashimi stood out as it doesn’t use typical processed wasabi, but in fact features Kona Grill’s secret of using authentic wasabi which is a rarity to find in the U.S. due to expensive costs and the difficult nature to grow the plant outside of Japan. Shortly after enjoying the apps, I dove into top recommendations from the chef.
King crab & citrus aioli, tuna, whitefish, salmon, asparagus, sprouts, cucumber wrapper, chili lime spice, green onion, spicy yuzu ponzu
An explosion of fish and vegetable flavors, the Rainbow Naruto is an excellent choice for those who want it all. Move over soy sauce and spicy mayo, the chili lime spice and spicy yuzu ponzu hit the nail on the head to bring this roll to the next level with a wonderful citrus and mildly spicy punch. And did we mention it is under 230 calories? WIN.
Spicy yellowtail, avocado, yellowtail, jalapeno, cilantro, togarashi, sriracha, yuzu ponzu
The Picasso Roll is noted as a “favorite” on the menu and rightfully so. This is an adventurous roll with an elegant Peruvian-like fusion of flavors. The spicy yellowtail and avocado blend perfectly well with the jalapeño, cilantro, sriracha and yuzu ponzu toppings. Jam packed with flavors and with just the perfect amount of kick for spicy fans, this roll is a total masterpiece and deservingly gets two thumbs up.
Tempura sea bass, crab mix, avocado, cucumber, soy paper, sweet & spicy sauce, fried wonton silvers
Starting with a creamy and soft texture from the tempura seabass, crab mix and avocado, adding a complementary crunch from the crispy fried wonton silvers and ending with the sweet & spicy sauce, the Yamada Roll gives you a mouth full of flavors and textures. This roll could also be recommended for beginner sushi eaters as it doesn’t have that “fishy” or “raw” kind of flavor and elicits a smooth yet tasteful experience.
Kona Grill has an extensive list of unique rolls. We won’t give away all the details, but below is a quick recap of other rolls we tried and recommend:
Top to Bottom: Vodoo, Yamada & Spicy King Crab Rolls
Salmon, Yellowtail, Tuna and Octopus Sashimi
Caitlin’s take: Kona Grill brings an elegant touch to Dolphin Mall with great quality food. You’re no longer limited to the traditional quick service restaurant options when you’re dying for a break after having been lost in Ikea for several hours, but rather have the choice of dining in upscale eatery with a reasonably priced menu. Additionally, Kona Grill offers a traditional Happy Hour (5 – 7 p.m.) and then it makes an encore appearance for Late Night Happy Hour (during the last two hours before closing,) which is perfect for those who work late in the area (myself included) or have passed their curfew on shopping.
Standout dishes: If it wasn’t already clear, the Picasso Roll is an absolute must. We also recommend ordering a Pineapple Cilantro Smash cocktail (Patron Silver tequila, lime, pineapple, monin agave nectar and cilantro) for a pairing that gives a unique twist to the traditional sushi experience and makes you consider saving space for seconds.