After a hiatus of about a year, the Spousal Unit and I returned to what used to be our go-to place for sushi. Blue Fugu Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar is located at 4615 Gulf Blvd. in St Petersburg Beach. It is upstairs in the strip mall dominated by the Publix supermarket.
We arrived shortly after six for an early dinner. The décor is calm and understated. There is a grill room, which we have never patronized and a second dining room that wraps around the sushi bar.
The Spousal Unit and I used to eat at Blue Fugu a couple of times per month. We stopped going after a string of mediocre experiences over several months. On the recommendation of someone that I met recently, we decided to give it another try. Overall, we had a good experience.
We had two rolls: the spicy tuna roll and the sake roll. For nigiri, we had maguro, escolar, sake, hokkigai and unagi.
Both of the rolls were good. I don’t remember seeing the salmon roll on the menu before, but it was very good, very simply prepared with just nori, rice and salmon. The spicy tuna had a wonderfully wicked slow burn. The tuna was minced and mixed with scallion and whatever spice mixture they use. On both rolls, the nori was tender rather than tough.
Among the nigiri, the tuna and unagi were the standouts. The hokkigai (surf clam) was tender and the flavor was fresh, tasting of the clean sea. I haven’t had clam many times as sushi. So far, I’d describe it as rather innocuous, but not at all tough like you might expect. The salmon was not the best I’ve ever eaten, but it was very good; it was obviously fresh with a luscious buttery mouth feel. The maguro was excellent – the color was beautiful, the flesh was both firm and yet tender, the flavor was delicate. It’s hard to mess up uniagi, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad piece; some places use too much sauce on it, but that wasn’t the case last night at Blue Fugu. The delicate eel was cooked to perfection and appropriately sauced.
The only disappointment of the evening was the escolar. Blue Fugu introduced us to this fish, and our first few experiences were ethereal. The flesh was dense and creamy and impossibly rich for raw fish. I understand that escolar is also referred to as “butterfish.” Unfortunately, I haven’t had any in the last year or so that wasn’t watery. I wonder if it is a seasonal issue, or a supply quality issue, but of the 5 or 6 different restaurants I’ve eaten sushi in during the last year or so, the escolar hasn’t been very good. That’s not going to stop me from trying again.
Total damage: $42.69 for the sushi llisted above and one iced-tea.
Bottom line, it was a good experience. When we can’t face the drive to Tampa to have sushi at Sakana, we’ll go back to Blue Fugu.