I was invited to Blowfish Restaurant & Sake Bar recently for the opening of BarFish, their brand new cocktail lounge. Ever since 2003, Blowfish (Twitter: @BlowfishResto, Facebook: Blowfish Restaurant + Sake Bar) has been offering unique Japanese fusion plates with an impressive sake list to the sophisticated King West crowd. With the cocktail scene now as hot as ever, the restaurant has seized the opportunity and launched BarFish, an extended space to Blowfish that can comfortably accommodate up to 60 guests.
Curated by award-winning mixologist Nishantha Nepulongoda (pictured above), BarFish's cocktail menu is complete with Japanese-inspired creations such as Pomegranate Saketini, Mango Passion Lychee Saketini, and Caribou Crossing (which has a dash of yuzu.) Open every night from 5pm, the bar is ideal for after-work cocktails or anytime you feel like having cocktails and snacks (the bar serves food from Blowfish).
After drinks at BarFish, we were led to the restaurant for dinner. The Blowfish dining room is massive yet very pretty. Notice the Japanese mural on the right; it spans the entire length of the room. One thing I want to mention is the purple lighting / glow in the space. Tell me, why does the addition of purple always make a room so much more "lounge-y"? Is it just me?
Replacing the old bar is a long sushi bar that seats fifteen.
A look at what I had that evening:
BLOWFISH GIANT EBI SHOOTER ($14)
Tiger prawn, mango, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, tempura bits, spicy kewpie, tobiko, wrapped with soy paper
JALAPENO SALSA MAGURO ($18)
Seared lean tuna with garlic-ginger sesame sauce
HOT OIL HAMACHI ($18)
Yellowtail seared with hot olive and sesame oil, served with ponzu sauce
SPICY TUNA ON CRISPY SUSHI RICE ($17)
Topped with jalapeno
ORANGE + BLACK ($13)
Salmon, mango, avocado, orange + black tobiko, yuzu drizzle
JALAPENO HAMACHI ($17)
Avocado, tempura bits, cilantro, golden tobiko and sriracha kewpie
SPICY ROCK SHRIMP
Tempura style, tossed in hot garlic kewpie sauce
ROASTED MISO-MARINATED BLACK COD ($19)
With egg miso
JAPANESE A3 WAGYU STRIPLOIN ($40)
On hot stone with enoki, negi + sesame & ponzu dips
MOCHI ICE CREAM TRIO
Red bean, green tea, mango
I was pleasantly surprised by the food at Blowfish. I guess for someone who has Japanese food very often I was skeptical of the place at first (reason being that it's a lounge-y Japanese fusion restaurant on King West.) I know I definitely "judged a book by its cover" on this one but hey, I was proven wrong - everything was actually quite tasty. I especially enjoyed the sashimi plates and the maki rolls, those were my favourites. The hot dishes were decent, I liked the tempura-style rock shrimp drenched in kewpie mayo and the classic miso-marinated black cod. The Japanese A3 Wagyu striploin on hot stone is fun if you like cooking stuff yourself (i.e. hot pot, Korean BBQ, shabu shabu, etc.) but personally, I'm not keen on that. I just don't want myself, or anybody at the table for that matter, to screw things up. Like, you know, over-cooking expensive cuts of wagyu! I'd rather have someone who knows what they are doing to cook it for me. But that's just me. Also, the hot stone doesn't stay very hot for very long. The first couple of slices is great because you hear that awesome sizzle once the marbled meat hits the stone but don't expect any sizzle by the second round. There were mixed thoughts on the dessert around the table; the green tea mochi ice cream was very nice while the red bean one was rock hard and the mango was somewhere in the middle.
*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*