Blue Ocean’s pop culture-inspired decor compliments their fantastic sushi dishes
Boasting an awesome atmosphere and fresh-tasting food, Blue Ocean is a perfect compliment to the diverse set of restaurants in the Delmar Loop.
After coming in, guests ate greeted with an interior adorned with pop-culture icons materialized by fantastic posters, sticker-bombed walls and painted murals. Neon signs and white christmas lights were hung everywhere in the restaurant, set to the tune of low-fi hip hop that wasn’t too loud.
The bar seating was comfortable and there were other options like booths and tables throughout the establishment. The moody lighting helped set the vibe along with “Akira” posters and Godzilla art, which established a 21st century Tokyo atmosphere.
We ordered some of the restaurant’s unique rolls — the AK 47, created by the restaurant’s founder and the Blue O, a fried delicacy.
The AK 47 came topped with some exquisite slivers of fried sweet potato and a drizzling of sriracha sauce, which preserved the freshness of the roll, while adding some interesting crunch from the sweet potato without a controversial frying — sometimes frowned upon by sushi fanatics. On the other hand, the Blue O did come fried, garnished with diced scallions, sushi sauce and some kick in the form of wasabi mayo.
The AK 47 came loaded with spicy tuna, cucumber and cream cheese. On top, it had divine slivers of eel under the layer of sweet potato and sriracha. It’s one not for the faint of heart, or those easily bothered by heat.
Don’t be fooled by the small servings — their servings are enough food. Here’s the hardest part: their signature rolls aren’t cheap. Both cost $13, which isn’t affordable for most college students.
For The Alestle, the amazing quality, service and relaxed atmosphere at the restaurant are well worth the price.
If customers are able to stomach the price, which is fair for such good quality, they’ll be treated to a virtually religious experience. It’s phenomenal and worth the trek to The Loop.
The rolls came served on a minimalistic wood platter. We aren’t going to claim to be hardcore food critics or art students, but it does help draw attention to what’s ordered. The perfectly-prepared rolls are art and are just as aesthetically pleasing as they are tasty.
After a quick palate cleanse with pickled ginger, it was time to feast on our works of art. Both of the rolls were extremely fresh and prepared at a dedicated sushi bar, where people can choose to sit if they’d like to watch the action.
Coming out of the fryer and onto our plate, the Blue O’s crunchy outside gave way to a delicate inside of crab salad, avocado and shrimp. It’s uniquely blended set of flavors and airy toppings cooled things down a bit after the AK 47.
On top of the amazing sushi, the service was fantastic. Our waiter was relaxed and sociable. Most importantly, they left everyone to themselves and never bothered a soul.
Now that we’ve given our two cents, Blue Ocean can be found at 6335 Delmar Blvd. in St. Louis next time you’re in The Loop. Orders can be picked up and the restaurant can be reached at (314) 726-6477 or write down the link — http://www.blueoceanstl.com/sushi-menu.html.
Roll over to Kampai Sushi Bar for a great time
We walked into Kampai Sushi Bar on a Tuesday night when their heat was not working properly. The temperature outside was around 20 degrees, not including the dreaded wind chill. We took one of the empty tables, when our friendly waitress turned on a side space heater for us.
We looked around and noticed other customers had them as well. Their consideration for not turning us into popsicles while handling chopsticks was appreciated.
We ordered the shumai, an appetizer with bite-sized steamed shrimp dumplings and three sushi rolls. The Yummy Roll is complete with spicy tuna, crab and avocado wrapped with soy paper and deep-fried with ponzu and honey wasabi sauce on top of it. The Fire Dragon, which is true to its name, has spicy tuna and topped with eel.
Our waitress offered us complimentary house salads and miso soup. The salad was different than the salads we are used to. It came with the usual lettuce, sliced carrots and sliced cucumbers and their special house dressing. The shock came when we took the first bite, promptly realizing they had just taken our salads out of a freezer. It was actually quite refreshing.
One miso soup came normally: tofu, seaweed and scallions. But the other contained mushrooms instead of tofu. The tofu miso soup was good because the flavors were balanced. The texture of the mushrooms in the miso soup was unpleasant.
Getting back to the sushi, the Vegas Roll has eel, cream cheese, cucumber and avocado on the inside, then the whole thing is deep-fried. The piquant combination of eel sauce and spicy mayo on top just sets the whole mouth ablaze with the pleasant flavors of the roll’s contents. We inhaled this roll in less than five minutes; it was so satisfying. We asked for more spicy mayo on the side, but ended up not using it because everything was spiced to perfection. Patrons will hit the jackpot with this roll.
The Yummy Roll was overall a wonderful bite of sushi, but the taste was slightly strange. The honey sauce-fried exterior with the juicy crab and tuna on the inside mimicked a perfect bite of a sauced fried chicken bite. We couldn’t stop eating it. Be warned: this one is sticky from the sauce it was cooked in.
The Fire Dragon Roll will breathe fire onto the taste buds if you eat it too quickly. However, with the two “sweet” sushi rolls we consumed before this one, the spiciness with this roll helped balance our meal. Soy sauce also helped cut down on the spice of this roll.
The shumai cost $4.75 and the rolls came to about $30, so with tax it was around $40. If patrons don’t try a bunch of rolls like we did for this review, then this can be a moderately priced place for sushi.
Kampai Sushi Bar is located 30 minutes away from campus. If anyone is ever around the Central West End area in St. Louis and want to indulge on quality sushi, this is the place to check out.
Edwardsville Wasabi isn’t that hot
Wasabi Wednesdays have gathered quite the hype at SIUE, but The Alestle decided to check out their other locations to see if it lived up to its fame.
Tucked in the corner next to Gliks and CVS, Wasabi in Edwardsville is underwhelming upon first look. Even at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, it was quite dimly lit and sparsely decorated. There was hardly anything visually interesting in the restaurant at all. The simplistic red and Asian theme was perhaps a little too relaxing, making us want to fall asleep.
The one thing keeping us awake, however, was the mid-volume ‘80s music playing. If they were going for ambiance, this surely wasn’t it. It wasn’t even good ‘80s music but instead an obscure, pop-type that was headache-inducing.
The menu was quite large and offered a variety of options ranging from a classic $6 Vegetable Roll to decadent $16 rolls that are practically works of art. We had a great number of options to choose from. Picking was hard — they all seemed so appetizing from the concise descriptions.
Eventually, we decided on two rolls to try — the Bonsai Roll and the Crunch Roll. The Bonsai Roll was $7 and seemed like a vegetable roll on steroids. It included sweet potato, spring mix, carrot, agave, asparagus and avocado. It was large, with a burst of color in the center, surrounded by white rice with the seaweed on the outside.
We expected to be dazzled by an array of flavor as we bit in, but to our dismay, it didn’t taste really any different from a vegetable roll. We decided that next time, we would spare ourselves a dollar and get ourselves a vegetable roll over the bonsai because there really wasn’t a difference — that extra dollar clearly wasn’t going toward flavor.
We also picked up a Crunch Roll, which cost $6.50. From the moment we set eyes on it, we knew it was going to be a love affair. It consisted of three simple things — crunch, cucumber and wasabi mayo. Yet the way they were combined was stunning. It was topped with crunch and mayo, with more crunch tucked away inside. Visually, it looked absolutely immaculate.
When we bit in, we were confronted by the perfect mixture of soft and crunchy and the flavors of the rice, crunch and wasabi mayo mixing together to perfection. It almost made up for the disappointment of the Bonsai Roll.
Despite our appreciation for the Crunch Roll, we have decided that we will stick to Wasabi Wednesdays over venturing out to the restaurant itself. The overall experience was relatively lackluster and frankly wasn’t worth the 10-minute drive, just to be greeted by a boring interior, annoying music and an overpriced vegetable roll. However, if we do ever decide to go again, the Crunch Roll will definitely make its way onto our plates.
BLK MKT Eats is pretty good, everybody
BLK MKT Eats caters to people who want something a little different. For those looking for nachos made of sushi, this is the place you go.
BLK MKT Eats is right by IKEA in St. Louis, which is convenient if you want to get a big stuffed snake at the same time as your big sushi like we did. The first thing you’ll notice is how small the restaurant is. There’s one table that seats four to six people, and another built into the windowsill that seats only two. Because of this, the inside is typically crowded and always a little dirty. The back of the store did appear to be significantly cleaner than the front.
The decor, layout and atmosphere of the store are more akin to fast food than a typical sushi restaurant, with self-seating, self-serve fountain drinks and only a waist-high partition separating the front of the store from the back. Customers pay before receiving their food.
The menu is small, containing twelve entrees and three sides, which is fairly typical for a shop that specializes in novelty food and makes a difficult decision easier.
Their signature items are their burrito-sized sushi rolls. The size allows more room to create complicated flavors than ordinary sushi, so BLK MKT Eats does not bother with simple rolls; each roll has a unique variety of vegetables and sauces. There are nine varieties, any of which can be sold as a bowl or salad, and three of which are available as nachos. Their side items are wonton chips, tofu nuggets and shrimp tempura.
We decided to split two rolls, starting with the Swedish Fish. This comes with salmon, slaw, cucumbers, avocado, asparagus, fennel and mayo. The salmon flavor is not strong, and is nearly drowned out by the fresh vegetables, but this works in the roll’s favor, providing a light compliment to an already-delicious vegetable roll.
The second roll, the Holy Shiitake, contains only their vegetables, which we consider a slight improvement to the formula. It is made with shiitake mushrooms, slaw, cucumbers, avocado, asparagus, daikon, shallots and unagi sauce. We tend to love anything with unagi, and the vegetables are fresh and compliment each other very well.
It feels great to have just finished one of their rolls, like getting some actual nutrients. While we would comfortably recommend both rolls, the Holy Shiitake was a much better value, costing only $9.50 where the Swedish Fish cost $13.50.
The downside is that sushi and burritos are two very different foods, and the ease with which one normally eats a burrito does not translate. The rolls are cut in half and wrapped in paper, but they are still open on each side like sushi; only the paper holds the rice together at the bottom. Eating one of the rolls will likely start to get messy, especially for those who drizzle soy sauce into the roll. When we left, our fingers were sticky.
Every sushi fan in the area should check out BLK MKT Eats at least once for the gimmick, and those who do are likely to want to go back and try it again. They also give out free rolls after five visits.