Considering that I live a 7 minute walk away, it’s amazing that I’ve never been to Blowfish restaurant and sake bar. Never until last night, that is, when my neighbour Irene invited me out for birthday drinks and appetizers (I love my birthday week: with a lot of foodie friends, I eat very well this time of year).
We went fairly early, a bit after 6pm, so it wasn’t busy at all and the service was very attentive. Also, it was a Tuesday night, probably not their busiest night. I think that they changed our plates 3 times during the meal, and even came over and lowered the window blinds when the setting sun had Irene full in the eyes.
Before ordering, we decided on cocktails. I had a “chilli berries” saketini, made with sake, vodka, cassis, Thai chili, fresh mixed berries, lime juice and simple syrup to sweeten it slightly. Delicious, not too sweet, and with a bit of the chili heat as a finish. Irene opted for the “chilly breeze”, which was tequila, X-rated liqueur, sage, Thai chili, vanilla bean, lemongrass, thyme, black peppercorn, watermelon and lime juice. The tequila taste predominated, although nice complexity in the mix of fruit and spices until Irene accidentally bit into a black peppercorn, thinking it was a berry.
The food was, not to put too fine a point on it, great. Here’s what we had:
- We each had a Blowfish giant ebi shooter, which is a hand roll stuffed with an enormous (cooked) tiger prawn, mango, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, daikon sprout, tempura bits, spicy kewpie (Japanese mayonnaise) and tobiko (flying fish roe). Interestingly, the wrap was a very light and edible soy paper instead of nori (seaweed), each in different colours, that tasted very slightly sweet but did not detract from the filling. The best part is that it was served propped in what could only be described as an oversized shooter glass, which I assume is where the name came from. I will go back to Blowfish just for a drink and one of these in the future.
- We shared an order of steamed lobster dumplings, which looked just like the har gow that you would have at dim sum, but stuffed with lobster. Each one was nestled in a little pool of spicy tobanjan sauce, seated in a Chinese soup spoon. The server was thoughtful enough to ask, when we ordered, if we wanted an extra dumpling: the standard serving is three dumplings, and we agreed to the fourth so that we didn’t have to fight over the last one. Perfectly steamed and a nice complement of flavours, although it was easy to scoop up too much of the spicy sauce and overpower the lobster.
- We shared a spicy tuna roll, filled with (raw) tuna, negi (green onion), and spicy kewpie; this was done in a classic roll style with nori and sushi rice, rolled with the rice side out, then rolled in tempura bits. Six pieces to share, and very tasty. I like their use of tempura bits as a garnish: this showed up in the shooter hand roll as well, and gives a nice crunch.
- For our last shared plate, we had roasted miso-marinated black cod, a very generous portion of two pieces, served with asparagus spears. The flavour of the fish was amazing, the cod definitely coming through the complexity of the miso marinade. It was also incredibly rich, and I don’t think that I could have eaten the whole plate on my own.
We accompanied all of this with a Lillypilly Sauvignon Blanc; the acidity was a good complement to the richness of the dishes.
To finish, I indulged in the ginger creme brulee, and we both had the Lillypilly Noble Blend dessert wine, a botrytis-affected blend that approaches an ice wine in sweetness but with a fresh acidity and some complex fruit character.
For something that was originally proposed as “drinks and appetizers”, it turned into quite a splendid pre-birthday dinner.