Top

dining

Stories

 

Sushi Stop at The Blue Fish

Dallas import a fun place for rolls and drinks before a nigt on the town.

Get your roll on at The Blue Fish in our behind-the-scenes slideshow of the Washington Avenue hand roll hang-out.

While I was sitting at the sushi bar at Dallas import The Blue Fish, one thing became clear: It's probably not the best seating choice when visiting this fairly new Washington Avenue eatery, which opened last August.

The bar feels truncated, like someone arbitrarily lopped off half of it during construction. While most sushi bars run straight down the length of the chef's sushi station, which occupied the entire east wall, this one was restricted to a corner, so that it felt small even though I was sitting smack-dab in the middle of it.

The South Beach Roll is an especially good bet.
Troy Fields
The South Beach Roll is an especially good bet.

Location Info

Map

The Blue Fish

5820 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77007

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Heights

Details

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10:30 p.m. ­Mondays through Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight Fridays; 5 p.m. to midnight Saturdays; and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Sundays.
Ahi tower: $14.95
Chilean sea bass appetizer: $14.00
Rain forest roll: $14.95
South beach roll: $12.95
Kampachi sushi, 2 pieces: $8.50
Tai sushi, 2 pieces: $6.95
Sea urchin (uni) sushi, 2 pieces: $8.95
Live scallop sashimi: $18
Hamachi sashimi: $16.50
Super toro sashimi, 5 pieces: $32


READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: Get Your Roll On at The Blue Fish
BLOG POST: Specialty Rolls and Customer Service Make The Blue Fish a Solid Washington Ave. Destination

Related Stories

More About

"We purposely made the bar smaller in Houston because most Houston restaurants have smaller sushi bars," Vlad Fish, The Blue Fish's area manager, explained later. "Our sushi bar in Dallas has many more seats."

While I might be inclined to buy that explanation, there's also the fact that the bar sits low — level with the rest of the tables in the restaurant — so that interaction with the sushi chef is not face to face. Instead, it's awkwardly hindered by a foot of blue-lit wall. When you walk in and see the sushi chefs working intently, heads bent, their chef's whites starkly contrasting against a shiny backdrop of blue-tiled walls adorned with fish, it's almost as if they're just standing there for show.

It kind of makes sense, considering the location of this restaurant, situated as it is on Washington Avenue, an area known more for its club and social scene than for its food. The general ambience and decor are rather club-like, with black partition walls, glowing, blue-lit back lighting, and lightly throbbing techno music.

This is probably not the place for the true sushi aficionado. It's more of a meet-up-with-friends kind of a place than one to have some serious sushi. In hindsight, it was probably naive of me to hope otherwise.
_____________________

During that first visit at the sushi bar, I asked the chef for the freshest sushi selections of the day. He pointed to an almaco jack (kampachi), a Japanese red snapper (tai) and the fatty tuna (toro), which he said had just come in five minutes before our arrival.

I turned to the menu to look for appetizers and small plates and quickly became confused. It had three different components: a traditional folded menu listing appetizers and entrées; a single laminated menu which had the roll descriptions without the pricing; and a paper sushi menu with the pricing, where you could mark off your selections.

When you flipped the rolls menu over, there was pricing for sushi and small plates (which were also listed on the folded menu), but again, not the rolls. I found myself flipping the menus back and forth to figure out how much a roll or a piece of sushi would cost. This non-transparent pricing system annoyed me on each of my three visits.

We ended up ordering a couple of appetizers, a specialty roll, the three fish selections suggested by the chef — kampachi and tai sushi and toro sashimi — and a serving of hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi on the belly side, my favorite.

The Ahi Tower, one of the signature appetizers, came out first. The server set down a pretty, tricolored column of rice, avocado, snow crab and sesame-marinated tuna topped with shredded seaweed, then toppled it over, quickly mashing everything up together so that the final plate we received look nothing like the original.

The pinkish-orange, amorphous mound of sticky rice was bland, pasty and starchy, with a not-so-smooth aftertaste. I noticed two of the women at the table of six behind me had ordered the same thing. I don't quite get why it's so popular.

Our Chilean sea bass appetizer was excellent, however, the fish buttery and flaky, slightly charred at the edges in a pleasing way. The blond miso glaze was a little sweeter than I would have liked, but I enjoyed this dish. Likewise, the specialty Rainforest Roll, which had been recommended by the server, was topped with a glistening mixture of spicy tuna and salmon and looked very appetizing. With its crunchy tempura shrimp center, creamy avocado and sweet eel glaze, this roll had all-around appeal. I was happy with the recommendation.

It was not until the sushi and sashimi arrived that things began to falter. Tastewise, the tai was acceptable, but the sushi rice was cold, dry and lacking in flavor where it should have been at body temperature, moist and slightly tangy with the taste of vinegar. The kampachi was not good at all, with a slightly slimy, yet powdery, texture that had me quickly eating some ginger to get rid of it.

The toro sashimi was good enough, but it wasn't the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness I would have hoped for at $32 for an order of five pieces. And although the hamachi belly sashimi looked good, with a slight pink color indicative of fresh fish, it suffered from the same textural unpleasantness as the kampachi. It had a sort of slimy, powdery mouth-feel, tasting nothing like the slightly sweet hamachi belly that I love. My friend took a bite and wrinkled her nose in distaste.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
Chuck
Chuck

Thanks for this review; I've been wondering about this place. I like your reviews and your replies to comments...I don't detect any snappy, defensive rebuttals, and I like the way you thank the person for reading and commenting on your article. Good job and I'll keep reading your stuff, as I check the author before I tap an article. Thanks again.

Now, I'll say that when I'm at a sushi place, or any restaurant, I don't bother asking if the food is fresh. As a cook, I either serve it, employee meal it, or trash it...no one's ever going to say, " na, the fish ain't that fresh today". If management/chef tells the server to sell it, they are going to do their job. Hell, restaurants have all kinds of contests to move product. For example, say they've had some octopus in the cooler for two days, they might have a contest on who sells the most octopus wins a trip to Vegas, or a gift of some sort...whatever. Anyway, they serve it, they're saying it meets their standards.

The Blue Fish
The Blue Fish

We no longer operate the location in Florida. Yes we originally opened a location in Delray beach in 2007 but it is no longer The Blue Fish. We only have 6 locations. 3 in Dallas and 1 in Allen and 2 in Houston. Nothing at this time in Carolina's. The Blue Fish is a family owned and operated, since 1998 in the best state of Texas. YEE HAA !

Jon
Jon

Pretty in depth review, but the writer's remark that "Washington Avenue, an area known more for its club and social scene than for its food." takes away some legitimacy.

I guess she's never heard of the well-reviewed, and award-winning benjy's (which is next door), BRC, Max's Wine Dive, Block 7, Branchwater, El Tiempo, Laurenzo's, Soma, The Broken Spoke, TQLA, La Fisheria or even Coppa???

How about the extremely popular El Rey, Star Pizza, Cadelari's, Patrenella's, Molina's, Laredo Taqueria, Los Dos Amigos, Cyclone Anaya's, The Counter, Beaver's, or Les Givral's Kahve?

I could list about 100 more if you count all the chains, joints, and old-timers like Zoe, Cadillac Bar, Canyon Creek, Jax Grill, Mission Burrito, Pizzatola's, Spaghetti Western, Pollo Campero, V21, Five Guys, Hickory Hollow, and many, many more.

All of these places are on Washington or within a block or two, certainly within the area.

A restaurant reviewer should know better.

DamationYG
DamationYG

Sounds decent, never heard of this chain, I'll add it to my list of 18 more Houston sushi places I've got to try. Nice pics.

GiamattiW
GiamattiW

Why do you call it a Dallas import? Instead of a chain? They have locations in Florida and at least one of the Carolina's. In fact, I think Mr. Vlad Fish has experience opening them all.

Alexiswong
Alexiswong

Well written, well thought out review. I feel I have a solid understanding of the restaurant after reading this.

DolphL
DolphL

Tell me when you're ready to sell or sublet your Bayou Place location! I love that place and think another kind of sushi bar would be a winning ticket there! Making money there is just in the details!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Thanks for reading and for your comment, however, it was not a misstatement. I stand by that sentence. I said it's "an area known more for its club and social scene than its food." I didn't say there aren't restaurants there, just that when you say "Washington Avenue," people think of the bars and nightlife more than they do about restaurants.

Incidentally, Branch Water, BRC, Block 7, Beaver's, Patranella's, El Rey, Cyclone Anaya's, Laredo Taqueria, Star Pizza, La Fisheria -- several of the places you mentioned -- don't actually have Washington Avenue addresses.

You're thinking of what is collectively referred to as the "Washington Corridor."

In any case, the review wasn't meant to discount the fine restaurants the area. If anything, it was to bring attention to the fact that there's some great food to be had on Washington Avenue.

Fishik
Fishik

There definitely many restaurants on washington avenue. And with in five years the days of only Soma and Benjys are no longer. Washington avenue is on the right track to become one of the most diverse food destinations in houston. It takes anywhere from 3 to 5 years to build a food client. We are well on the way! I am glad that we are attracting food critics, who will only helps us to create a bigger buzzzz

The Blue Fish
The Blue Fish

We no longer operate the location in Florida. Yes we originally opened a location in Delray beach in 2007 but it is no longer The Blue Fish. We only have 6 locations. 3 in Dallas and 1 in Allen and 2 in Houston. Nothing at this time in Carolina's. The Blue Fish is a family owned and operated, since 1998 in the best state of Texas. YEE HAA !

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

It's my understanding from the website, and also via phone confirmation with Mr. Fish, the Area manager, that The Blue Fish started with four locations in Dallas, expanding to Houston last year, first in the Bayou Center, and later on Washington Ave. Hence, "Dallas import" is appropriate. I suppose you could call it a small chain, but I'm not aware of the other locations you speak of.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Thank you for reading and for your comments!

Jon
Jon

You wrote "area" not Avenue. I know exactly what I was thinking, I live here. Maybe the people that you associate with think of the "area" as nothing but bars, but that's not most people or all people. Nevertheless, there is no need for you to perpetuate that falsehood. Is there?

RestVet
RestVet

Why not try to attract clientele instead of food critics? If you tell people where you are and invite them in, you can develop a clientele in less than 3-5 years. Trust me. I've done it many times.

WiggyZig
WiggyZig

I met Fish when he was opening the DelRay Beach,FL location. Maybe he forgot about that one?

Damian50
Damian50

Thank you! I love eating in your Bayou Place location. I get great service and the place is usually empty, except for a couple people at the bar, so I can hear myself think. It's like a quiet refuge in a world of busy restaurants.

The Blue Fish
The Blue Fish

People like to discover places! Restaurants depend heavily on the locations so people are able to discover them. You can't ever make anything go faster. In 6 month you know rather it will make it or not but it has to take the full turn. Can't rush anything. People know where we are because of the location and once they find it, they make it their own. I have not done it many times like you because once or twice successfully kept me busy for over 15 years! I thank my customers, friends and all people , who chose to support The Blue Fish and chose to like the product we serve. Discover The Blue Fish on your own!

Gerontion
Gerontion

Oh the memories of the Delray Beach location! I too recall them fondly. Great stuff! And one of my favorite joints when I did business there.

But I feel sadness and a tinge of embarrassment for Mai, the writer, that she was misled when confirming about the other locations. Was there also a location in the Carolinas at one point?

The Blue Fish
The Blue Fish

How can i forget ? I miss it sometimes! last night after reading your comments i pulled up all of the photos and media for DelRay Blue Fish. Still go visit the place.

 
Loading...