Since today was my last official day of my summer teaching gig at UCLA, I decided to celebrate by treating myself to lunch. So after dropping off the final grades and getting a partial refund on my extremely overpriced summer parking permit (yay!), I headed to the Blue Marlin on Sawtelle, which I had heard great things about.
Heading there, I had my heart set on one thing only: the infamous Uni Spaghetti. I love pasta, and I love uni--what could be better? But horror of horrors, the very sweet waitress apologized and said they had no uni today! BUMMER!
So I looked through their long and quite appealing menu for quite a while before deciding to graze on appetizers: I ordered the eggplant and walnut salad, the fried chicken in a sweet miso sauce; and because I still had a jones for something creamy involving seafood, the dynamite.
The chicken came out first: a very large portion for an appetizer, with a bowl of rice it would have made a perfectly sufficient lunch on its own. The boneless chunks were batter-fried then sauteed (I'm guessing) in the sauce, then sprinkled with sesame seeds. The chicken was good--moist on the inside, still crispy on the outside, the sauce a bit sweeter than I like but still tasty. But it was hard to eat on its own-- the sweetness/saltiness of the sauce just screamed out for a bowl of rice. Then I realized with horror that there were almost no real carbs in the meal I had just ordered. My fault.
The salad and the dynamite came out simultaneously. The dynamite (seafood gratineed under a flavored Japanese mayonnaise sauce) was really disappointing. It consisted of a layer of overcooked, shrivelled tiny shrimps and calamari pieces swimming in liquid, topped with a few dollops of mayonnaise and a large overcooked mussel on a broken shell covered with mayo. The mayonnaise topping seemed curdled and the seafood was tough and flavorless. It seemed as though it had been made hours before and left under a heat lamp.
The eggplant and walnut salad was likewise unimpressive. I love eggplant but my husband hates it, so I only get to eat it on occasions like this when he isn't around--which made this dish all the more disappointing. The salad was huge--a meal-size bed of romaine lettuce topped with the standard Japanese restaurant salad dressing (slightly grainy, slightly creamy orange stuff), with a large murky mound of eggplant on top. There were hardly any walnuts involved as far as I could tell, and there were almost as many pieces of boiled carrot as there were eggplant. AND the sauce on the eggplant/carrots was WAY too sweet--cloyingly, sugary sweet. I could barely make myself take a second bite. That, and it seemed to have no relation to the romaine-orange-dressing stuff underneath.
The very kind waitress asked if I wanted a box to take the salad home in and I said yes, just so as not to hurt her feelings. But as soon as I got home, I tossed the salad in the trash.
I really wanted to like this place. It's cute. The menu looks like fun. The dishes on all the other tables looked yummy. The staff is friendly, efficient, and kind. But my meal sucked.
Did I just order wrong?? Is this one of these places that's good for only one thing (or a couple of things)?? What are your thoughts??