It’s hard to imagine a restaurant more aware of the fine line between paying homage to the culture of its food and trying too hard. At Bluefin Fusion, Victorian-style chandeliers illuminate the dark interior, while the walls — featuring Japanese cherry blossom paintings which light up and change color — reflect a mastery of the fusion to which the name of the restaurant refers.
It’s not just the interior design. Bluefin Fusion, conveniently located in University Towne Center where the restaurant opened last year, has paired the traditional sushi-making experience of the two head chefs with the casual atmosphere of a karaoke lounge.
Equipped with a drink and sushi bar, the noise level of the restaurant may be more appropriate for an easy-going Friday night out than an intimate date. No matter whom you decide to share the experience with (and whether or not sake will be a part of it), the perky, snazzily dressed wait staff will be sure to enhance your experience.
Peel your eyes away from the mesmerizing walls long enough to notice a quirky menu, which features dishes like the “Sexy Roll,” an “Ex-Girlfriend Roll” and even a “UCSD Roll” (TapEx crispy chicken not included).
Both Chef Yoshida and Chef Akira have over 20 years of experience preparing sushi in Japan and the United States, and insist on using fresh fish for a large portion of the dishes they offer. It pays to show some Triton pride — the UCSD Roll ($12.95) contains raw spicy tuna, fresh avocado, calamari and crunchy cucumber on the inside, topped with fried tilapia filet and shrimp and served with an abundance of thick spicy mayo and eel reduction sauce. Almost all of the fish in this roll is delivered fresh daily and the sushi is made to order. The soft textures inside the roll mesh well with the crunch of the fried tilapia and tempura shrimp, and the spicy mayo makes an excellent pairing. After a few rolls, though, the heat of both the spicy mayo and the tuna (infused with chili oil or Sriracha sauce) subdue the cooler flavors of the roll. A subtler mayo might allow better appreciation of the flavors.
The California Beach Roll ($12.95), the classic beginner roll filled with crab, cucumber and avocado with scallops on top, comes baked and doused with the spicy mayo as well. The addition of the tender, bite-sized seared scallops (a twist on the classic California Roll) and the chilled tastes of the well-portioned roll make it a soft, easy sushi to bite into and enjoy. With less of the mayo, the taste of the fresh crab was more easily registered by the taste buds.
The late arrival of the fried calamari rings ($5.95), a hot appetizer that would have otherwise provided a good lead-in, made them a losing case. The rings were leathery, even with the sweet tartar sauce that accompanied them.
As sushi runs go, a trip to Bluefin Fusion may not be easy on the wallet (to enjoy the full range of the fresh flavors, be prepared to fork out $20 or more), but it’s money that goes a long way. If the fresh fish, expertise of the chefs and amiable service aren’t convincing enough, take a seat and enjoy the trippy scenery — the hypnotic walls will have you forgetting any buyer’s remorse in no time.
4305 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, CA 92122
11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.
5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Price Range: $8-$35
Recommended: California Beach Roll
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