As the 2009 fires raged on north of Altadena, and Flintridge/La Canada, D and I headed out to Pasadena to run errands and experience the wilting temperatures of the current heat wave. Below is our view from the car heading north on the 2.
Blue Fish Sushi Bar Restaurant & Lounge
58 E Colorado
Pasadena, CA 91105
Looking for some decent sushi in Pasadena, I found good Yelp reviews for a little spot in Old Town Pasadena called Tani. We drove all the way across Pasadena, and found it had been tranmogrified into a hipster sushi restaurant and lounge. Starving and sweating, we decided to stay and have some lunch.
Given the surroundings, I should have known what kind of sushi we were in for...sleek, trendy, self titled lounge.
We didn't read the menu before entering, but had we our eyes would have been assaulted by a long list of inventive rolls going way beyond the spider roll, the rainbow roll or the shrimp tempura roll. Names like: Cherry Blossom, Crab Bomb, Old Pasadena, Blackjack, Pearl Harbor Roll. I was really in the mood for simple traditional sushi, so for the most part we stuck there, and not unpleasantly.
Portions were ginormous. Salmon sushi was very fresh and buttery, but no wasabi under those giant pieces of pink flesh. I have no problem adding it myself, but it was surprising. Also, the fish seemed to have a light sprinkling of some ponzu style sauce on top, which I find unusual for salmon sushi. The rice portion was also pretty large, each piece was about three bites for me. Despite the unusual prep, the chef was incredibly friendly, and as he was working cut off several generous pieces of sashimi from different fishes for D and I to sample, chatting with us about Tokyo and the neighborhoods he had worked.
I also tried the albacore, which again was a beautiful piece of fish, lightly seared with a dusty grilled flavor on just the very outside of the flesh. The sauce on top was not the thin, slightly sweet juice that normally comes on albacore, but a kind of vinaigrette dressing. Vierd. But tasty.
D ordered us both oyster shooters. Out came this complex concoction. Two large oysters, tobiko and a raw quail egg in ponzu. They were beautiful but overwhelmingly . I was expecting something much more simple.
D knocked his back in one shot, but my mouth just isn't that big. I fished out my beautiful oysters and gave D the juice, egg and remaining tobiko.
Nice simple Cal roll, no mayo and nothing fancy. D loves a Cal roll.
The salmon skin hand roll was also a curiosity. Again, large in portion but not dry like I am accustomed to. Fairly well covered in BBQ sauce.
Certainly didn't taste bad, with lots of pickled carrot and not too much rice. But the BBQ sauce surprised me.
I caved on one of the crazy rolls, the Albacore Delight. Seared albacore on top with spicy albacore in the middle. I wanted to try a house specialty, but was unaware of the size of the coming attraction. This thing was bigger than my head and longer than my dog's tail.
And soaked in that same vinaigrette with lots of mustard seeds. The quaility inside the roll was not so great, lots of dark pieces of albacore. So I simply ate the sashimi off the top and enjoyed the best part of that behemouth.
Last they shared with all the customers small chunks of mochi, delicious. From the top left going clockwise: chocolate, coffee, vanilla and strawberry. I am such a sucker for mochi.
Below, see the colorful photmural of Shinjuku that hangs behind the sushi bar and dominates the room. Loves.
In summary, I have to say that while the food tasted good and the quality of the ingredients was high, I would not dine at Blue Fish again. I am no sushi nazi, but I like a classic OG sushi restaurant, which is what I thought I would be getting at Tani. Tani and Blue Fish share the same web page, so I am assuming the owners haven't changed, they have simply changed concept. This is a perfect sushi bar for the majority of clients walking through Old Town. Tourists, students and whatnot. Interesting, friendly, generous, very good sake list and food that will not overly challenge the Western tastebuds. I can think of lots of people I would recommend it to. It's just not for me, despite my lovely afternoon there.