Blowfish - Why We Live in a Big City
I'm no sushi snob - if the sushi/sashimi craving hits, I'll be feasting at an all-you-can sushi place and leave two hours later, fully satiated and ten pounds heavier.
But on occasion, despite student loans and an over-priced coffee addiction, I'll forget the bills, put on a decent shirt, and decide to spend a little more money to experience some innovative, inspired, mouth-watering cuisine - why else do I live in a big city?
Of course, spending big money on a new dinning experience is always a gamble - the food could suck, the service could leave you feeling cold and the bill could force you into bankruptcy.
But at Blowfish Restaurant and Sake Bar, the gamble paid off. On a whim, we decided to visit the upscale, but totally unpretentious spot, located in a nicely decorated former bank at the corner of Bathurst and King. Even though we called the restaurant at the very last-minute, the friendly staff welcomed us and seated us in a beautifully decorated patio where reservations are not required.
Chef G.Q. Pan, aside from having a cool name, serves up an amazing menu of "Japanese inspired French fusion". The menus at the four-year-old establishment, suggest sharing and sampling plates from both the Blowfish Makimonos menu and the cold and hot plate menus.
Never one to disobey a culinary order, we began by sharing crispy foi gras and duck dumplings with raspberry dessert wine reduction, from the hot plates menu. It's hard for something as rich and decadent as foi gras to not taste good, but the presentation in crispy dumpling pouches and the perfectly sweetened wine reduction sauce made us pause after each bite to savour a delicious blend of textures and flavours.
From the same menu, we decided to continue the duck theme with the roasted duck breast, served with mushrooms and a plum wine reduction. The meat was uncomplicated, allowing the savoury flavours to come through. The mushrooms and fresh onions rounded out the taste, and a small bit of chilli sauce gave the dish a spicy, slightly sweet, kick at the end.
The Blue Snow rolls, which included tuna, tai, salmon, kani, avocado, mango, and daikon sprouts was served next, by our very attentive and helpful waiter. After the first bite, I was totally pleased with my choice - the complicated mixture of textures and flavours along with extremely fresh and almost silky fish nicely countered the richer duck and foi-gras dishes. This is the type of dish that makes you remember the difference between decent sushi and amazing sushi.
The soft shell tartar rolls, which are prepared with avocado, lettuce, chive, yuzu tobiko and tartar sauce was served next. While not the highlight, the dish worked well and proved the point I have about spending more than a little money at a restaurant: It's really worth it when the food you're getting is something you would never be able to make in your own kitchen.
I have an off and on relationship with dessert, but I was curious about Blowfish's mango tempura - a dish that has an improbable mix of mango fried in a tempura batter served with white chocolate and curry. Yeah, curry! I don't even like white chocolate and I was hesitant about curry in a desert. The verdict? It totally works. It's hard to describe the mixture of flavours as varied as curry, mango and white chocolate, but trust me, it was delicious and days later I'm still thinking about the last bite of that dish.
The restaurant turns into a very busy lounge later in the evening, so plan on getting there a bit early if you're planning on some weekend dining. With a large sake and saki-tini list, this is a place that you can hang out in through the night (especially on the comfy patio in the summer).
And after all my talk about expensive dining, we got a lot of amazing food, some sake, dessert and coffee for about $60 each, which leaves me more than enough for my student loan.
Blowfish is located at 668 King Street West