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Sushi Stop at The Blue Fish

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

I didn't want to waste what should have been perfectly good hamachi belly, so to be sure we didn't pass judgment incorrectly, I ate a piece of ginger to clean my palate before sampling a second piece. It made no difference. The second taste was exactly the same as the first, and we left the remaining portion untouched.

What appeared to be perfectly good sashimi left uneaten did not go unnoticed by the manager, who asked me if there was anything wrong with it. I didn't make a big deal about it but expressed myself honestly, shaking my head in apology as I told him, "It wasn't good."

Now, here's where I was impressed. The manager took the offending dish away and came back immediately to apologize and say that he would take it off our bill. Then, when our check arrived, he offered us each a $10 gift card to use upon our return. "Sorry about the sashimi," he said. "I spoke to the sushi chef about it and we're not sure what happened. We hope you'll use those gift cards to come back and try something else."
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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

To get the weekend feel of the restaurant, I returned on a Saturday evening, close to 11 p.m. With one hour left until close, the restaurant was not full, but we were immediately seated and waited on without any rush.

Wary after our previous experience, I inquired about the freshness of the fish before ordering a live scallop sashimi and a couple pieces of uni. Both the server and the manager assured me that the uni would be excellent. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I found it to be good, not excellent. Fresh uni is buttery and melts on the tongue, with no fishy aroma. The uni we received, though generous in portion, had a slightly fishy aroma to it, which my friend confirmed when she looked up after eating her piece and concluded, "It was okay, but I've had better."

The live scallop sashimi, on the other hand, was very, very good, the best sashimi I tasted there over my three visits. Presented in a wooden box over a bed of ice, the live scallop tasted delicate and moist, tender and sweet. It also came with a baked side dish made of scallop muscle in a creamy white sauce, a nice surprise because this part of the scallop, which can be likened to chicken gizzards, is normally discarded. We enjoyed it so much, I thought it would be the highlight of our meal. But that was before we tried their SoBe, or South Beach Roll.

I would gladly go back for this light and delicious roll, which uses cucumber instead of seaweed for its wrapper. Presentationwise, it's thinly sliced and laid out flat to resemble a flower, with two leaves and cucumber strips standing in the middle of the plate. Salmon, crab stick and avocado are tightly packed together in the middle of the roll to create a lovely mosaic of oranges, pinks and greens. A tangy vinaigrette provided just the right flavoring for this refreshingly crisp roll. Everything, from the texture to the look, the temperature and the flavor, was perfect.

To that end, I found all the specialty rolls I tried to be excellent. Tian Lin, the executive chef over all of the locations, has created rolls that The Blue Fish executes well. They look good, taste good and are fun to share. Likewise, small plates like the Chilean sea bass sampler can be easily shared among friends over a couple of cocktails or a bottle of sake. The daily happy hour is another draw, with specials like $2 beers, $4 wells and small plates from $3 to $5.

Though the sushi and sashimi I sampled were inconsistent in quality, the restaurant management genuinely seemed to take pride in the quality of the fish served. The manager told me that people order a lot of sashimi, and that The Blue Fish consistently stocks specialty fish like the live scallops, which I so thoroughly savored. In order for the restaurant to maintain a more consistent quality, though, I think having a set fish-delivery schedule, instead of getting it on an as-needed basis, might work better. Currently, weekends seem to be a better choice if you want the raw-fish option at this location.

It's probably not a destination for a sushi connoisseur, but The Blue Fish is hip and cool without being too exclusive. The crowd, mostly in the twenties-to-forties range, is generally well-dressed, but this isn't one of those Washington places that will deny customers in sneakers or jeans. It's a good pre-event pit stop where you can gather with fun-loving friends who like the idea of sushi but aren't hard-core connoisseurs, people who are probably more likely to order rolls than sashimi anyway.

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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.

 
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