web analytics

Harry Lyons’ Bill of Fare: Blue Dolphin Room

This is the third part of an ongoing series covering Harry Lyons’ Bill of Fare, an out-of-print book guide to Hawaii’s finest restaurants, featuring dining tips, cartoons and recipes. Harry Lyons was the editorial cartoonist for the Honolulu Advertiser throughout the 60′s and 70′s.

Note that, being this book was published in 1972, many of the eateries featured in it are no longer in business, including BLUE DOLPHIN ROOM, which presumed, is currently Duke’s Waikiki on the Beach.

Review by Harry Lyons

Outrigger Hotel
2335 Kalakaua Avenue
Ph. 923-0711

The big rustic wooden sign over the doorway to this beachside restaurants says, “ALOHA THROUGH THESE TIMBERS PASS THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE IN HAWAII.”

After you pass through a portal of native greenery, a gentle waterfall and black coral from the 200-foot ocean depths off Maui, you’ll enter a relaxing dining and cocktail area. The BLUE DOLPHIN ROOM is built on hallowed ground, once the playground of ancient Hawaiian Ali’i, and more recently the site fo the original Outrigger Canoe Club.

Aided by two sons, owners Edmund Philippet and his lovely wife Dolores designed and built the BLUE DOLPHIN, and it was opened in 1968. The comfortable room has the casual, relaxed feel of an old Waikiki tavern. The walls are rough-hewn–fashioned from 75-year-old redwood railway ties from Hawaii’s original Oahu Railway & Land Co. Each dining table is differently handcrafted with unusual motifs imbedded in clear resin. You may be seated at one with a hunk of railrooad tie and rusty spike, another with Waikiki beach sand, or hand-carved dolphins swimming around a pebble-formed Oahu, or still another with rugged rope flag’s lanyard design.

A big Hawaiian monarchy flag is proudly displayed. The old Hawaiian atmosphere is accented by marvelous photos of Waikiki as it once was…. a haunting bare but beautiful skyline with Diamond Head unblemished, a dappled shot of an old Chinese duck farm where the vast Ala Moana Shopping Center now stands. And more: the long disappeared Iwilei railroad station and the classic Waikiki landmark Hustace home, whose old Victorian veranda railing now grace the BLUE DOLPHIN.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven day a week, this poolside haven has acquired a dedicated following of both residents and visitors. Enjoy a sunny breakfast or lunch by the pool overlooking the beach. Even dinners are served poolside, if you desire. The menu is vast and there are “little people menehune” sandwiches offered for your smallfry at noon, as well as the famous “Island Boy” Hawaiian Chopped Steak.

You can spend an entire evening at the BLUE DOLPHIN. Owner Ed says, “our Mai-tais, Chi-Chis and Bloody Marys are the best on the beach.” Start with one of these, and then plunge into the carefully selected menu. The DOLPHIN’s specialties include a bamboo stick laden with mixed seafood (mahimahi, lobster and shrimp), broiled to a turn, a thick juicy cut of Eastern corn-fed prime rib, boneless breast of Chicken Kiev, and many others. Then sit back, order an after-feast beverage and revel with some of Hawaii’s premier old-style entertainment. There’s never a cover charge.

Relaxed contentment. That’s what Hawaii… and the BLUE DOLPHIN… is all about.

Breakfast: Up to $2.95
Lunch: $1.05-3.95
Dinner: $4.25-$7.25

(Sauteed Strips of Beef and Fresh Vegetables)

1 lb. tenderloin or top sirloin steak
2 medium onions
2 stalks celery
3-4 leaves chinese cabbage or fresh spinach
salt, pepper, oil, shoyu sauce

Cut all items in strips one half inch thick and 2-3 inches long. Place food ingredients in large frying pan, add salt, pepper and shoyu to taste. Pour 1 ounce or more oil over items. Put pan over high heat, stirring slowly while items

begin to simmer. As items cook faster, increase stirring. Cook according to taste (6-15 minutes). Serve with steamed rice.

~ Harry Lyons

*This establishment is NO LONGER IN BUSINESS.

Pomai’s Notes

Once again, I LOVE how Harry meticulously describes the decor and ambiance of each restaurant he reviews. Which obviously was a necessity back in those days when film photography wasn’t as convenient as today’s digital world.

I’m very curious about two places of yesteryear he mentioned in old Honolulu: that Chinese duck farm where Ala Moana now stands, and also the Iwilei railroad station. If you look behind the KMart in Iwilei, old railroad tracks are still there leading towards Honolulu Harbor.

Based on the location and description of BLUE DOLPHIN, that spot is now DUKE’S WAIKIKI, THE most popular beach bar and restaurant in Waikiki with a million dollar view of Waikiki Beach, literally located right ON the beach.

If you’re a fan of the late Martin Denny’s “Exotica” style of music, check out my friend Jim Bacchi’s band out of California called the Tikiyaki Orchestra. Excellent stuff!

As for the Hawaii style Chopped Steak, I’m really happy with this recipe that Betty Shimabukuro recommends, with the exception that I add sauteed onions to the mix. Note, don’t add too many veggies, as it will lose that “Chopped Steak” signature appeal. The secret is that cornstarch, that not only thickens the “sauce”, but also helps tenderize the beef. Here it is:

Chopped Steak

“Favorite Island Cookery Book IV” Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin (1985)

1 pound tender beef, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon water
» Seasoning:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
1-inch piece ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, grated or minced

Combine seasoning ingredients. Add beef and marinate 20 minutes. Heat oil in pan; add onions and cook until soft. Remove. Place beef in pan with seasoning. Stir-fry until cooked through. Remove, leaving seasoning liquid in pan.

Combine cornstarch and water; stir until smooth. Add to seasoning liquid and simmer until thickened. Return beef and onions to pan. Serves 4.

In the next installment, my heartbreaking review of the Blue Zebra nightclub. Just kidding. :-P. Next installment will be Harry Lyons’ review of Buzz’ Original Steak House in Lanikai…

Click here to return to Harry Lyons’ Bill of Fare table of contents

P.S. A couple shots taken yesterday by The Tasty Island reader Paul C., owner of Corny Cones, of his Lanikai Canoe Club team paddling in a race, plus another a Hawaii Green Sea Turtle swimming nearby…

Lanikai Canoe Club paddling in a race on 8.17.14. Photo By Paul C.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle spotted on 8.17.14. Photo by Paul C.


7 thoughts on “Harry Lyons’ Bill of Fare: Blue Dolphin Room

  • August 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Chopped Steak is my gauge dish.

    • August 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm


      Ha ha! You should try that Hongwanji recipe. It’s great.

      Diner E’s “gauge plate” is Hamburger Steak.

      I don’t have a universal “gauge dish”, however I do judge a Japanese Ramen-Ya by how well they can make Shoyu Ramen, and a burger joint by how well they can make a Swiss ‘n Shroom Burger.

  • August 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm


    The Iwilei rail station is still there. It is the building with the clock tower right across Aala park. Those train tracks probably served the Dole Cannery back in the day.

    • August 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm


      Ah!!!! Thanks to Google Street View, here it is!…

      the old Iwilei Railroad Station (now state offices)

      My coworker’s sister used to work in that building, which is now state offices (accounting, IIRC).

      Thank God it isn’t on the mauka side of Aala Park where a certain bank is now located. :-O

  • January 15, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Hi, looking for a bakery that was next to the railroad station back in 1958-59. I used to ride the bus to school and had to transfer to another bus in front of the bakery. It might have been Aala Bakery (not sure if that was the correct name) and it was directly across from Aala Park (way before it was renovated to what it is now). Any way, they had the best tea cakes, butter rolls and bread pudding and I have not found any bakery that sells tea cakes any more. They were not cookies…it looks like they were baked in a sheet pan, cut into squares, sold by the square and when eaten, melted in your mouth, mmmmmm so moist! Can you help?

  • February 28, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Just wondering what year the Blue Dolphin Room closed its doors. Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: