Sushi With a Scene

Above: Blue Sushi offers an impressive selection of vegan maki, including Avo Ahimi, with tuna, avocado, sesame seeds, scallion and sweet soy sauce.

Photographer: Duane Tinkey

When it comes to this city’s sushi, I’ve been in a mostly monogamous relationship with Miyabi 9 for years (though admittedly I’ve strayed now and then with Akebono 515). Recently, however, I’ve become seduced by Blue Sushi Sake Grill, which opened in September on Court Avenue in the space formerly occupied by Goldfinch, and before that, Dos Rios. 

So what’s its allure? Step inside, and you’re not just walking into a restaurant, you’re suddenly part of a scene. Eschewing the modern-minimalist vibe ubiquitous in many newer venues, the dynamic decor is splashy and bold—but with its own kind of harmony. Somehow, the Japanese street-art-esque mural of Godzilla and Japanese beer labels stays in tune with the luminous blue lighting, glowing lanterns and sexy red-and-gold-lit lounge accents. Though not retro in the least, the place pulses with a certain edgy excitement I once felt in ’80s New York dance clubs.

I should add that with all that came (at least on the night of our visit) some rather emphatic techno-pop music. You know when you’re in the mood for that. Or not. That’s why next time I go, I’ll be heading there with a table-full of food lovers and ordering a table-full of nigiri, maki and sashimi and a slew of small and medium plates (plus sake and craft cocktails) for a night-on-the-town kind of evening. 

So how, then, is the sushi? (Admit it—you’re kind of worried.) I found everything I ordered well worth ordering again. Favorites included a sockeye salmon nigiri—simple and pristine in its appeal—as well as the more complex “Killer” roll, a lively mix of shrimp tempura, spicy crab mix, ponzu, togarashi and a kicky sauce. With slices of beef served smoking and sizzling over lava-hot rocks, the River Rock Tenderloin is a tasty spectacle. Also good to know: My sushi-afcionado besties at a nearby table raved about the ceviche (“fresh, bright, and well-balanced”) and the calamari (“excellently fried, crispy and light”).

Blue Sushi is part of a sweep of regional restaurants in cities from Kentucky to Colorado; the Des Moines outpost is located at 316 Court Ave. Find out more—including information on the company’s commitment to the environmentally responsible sourcing of seafood—at bluesushisakegrill.com.                            

–Wini Moranville

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