I love sushi. I especially love good sushi, but I won’t turn down sushi even if it is made by a well-meaning friend. Luckily the folks at Blue C are more than well-meaning friends. They are master chefs and with any luck they will convince even the most Nervous Nelly that Japanese cuisine in general, and sushi in particular, is more than just raw fish.
Kaiten sushi (aka “conveyor belt sushi”) is perfect for the novice because you can see what’s coming and decide if you want it. Blue C takes it one step further by labelling their plates so that not only do you see the stuff coming, you know it’s salmon, that it has cream cheese in it, how it’s cooked, and whether it’s spicey or not.
Each plate is color coded by price and named after a subway line in Tokyo- Mita ($4), Tozai ($3.25), Yurakucho ($2.75), Ginza- the famous shopping district ($2.25), and Shinjuku where the Japanese get funky ($1.50). The plates are covered with clear plastic domes and the tempura, katsu and croquettes are places on top of little candle lit burners that keep them warm as they go around. The vegetable tempura was still hot and crispy when it got to me and the waiter was quick to fetch some dipping sauce.
Aside from the erroneously marked hotate (scallops) which were labelled something like “Hokkaido sushi” and the spicy tuna roll, which was far more nuclear than a mere “spicy” indicated, the plates were well described and enticing. Each dish held from 2 (the scallops, tuna, etc.) to 4 pieces (the rolls) and as a result I was full after only a few plates. Okay, six plates, but who’s counting?
The scallops were buttery and soft, the featured salmon was from the Atlantic so I gave it a miss, but the sockeye had to be sampled- we’d just come from inspecting the locks at Ballard, after all, and seen the place where the sockeye would head upstream through the salmon ladders to spawn.
The rolls were delicious- enough that I went for the California roll, which is something I never usually do. It is labelled as containing “krab” which is much nicer than “imitation crab” but also set it apart from the real Dungeness they surved on the kani gunkan. I also sampled the softshell crab tempura roll which was delicious and crisp. There is also miso, seaweed salads, rice balls wrapped in steamed spinach with sesame (goma) and fresh fruits.
To accompany the sushi there is a great selection of saketinis and other drinks and draft Japanese beers, which cool the tongue after too much spicy tuna. The entertainment doesn’t stop with the food itself, you can also see a nifty little contraption they use for getting perfectly uniform nigiri just right.
To finish off the meal you can choose from choux creme, ice cream and mochi ice cream balls. We chose the green tea. Here I am showing off the chopstick skills that kept me fed through 5+ years in the Orient.
Even if you don’t like raw fish, there is plenty to eat. The wait staff is responsive and well-versed in sushi. The ambiance is funky, with a mural featuring the Fremont troll helping himself to a huge sushi boat while salmon pour out of a manhole cover and head for the Aurora Bridge. On one wall they show filmed snippets from Japanese life and tv shows, but it’s not distracting. The music is whatever is good on the radio. Nothing is too loud as to make conversation impossible. Unless of course you are so into your sushi that you aren’t talking anyway.
Blue C has two Seattle locations. One in funky Fremont, the center of the universe and contender for the crown of opinionated with Cambridge, MA and University Village in Seattle, where the U-Dubbers roam. Their happy hour is happy indeed, with $1 sushi from 4 to 6pm.
If you go on a Saturday as we did, put in your name and roam the streets a bit- you’ll see dino topiaries, the famous outdoor cinema, and a new chocolate shop where the RedHook brewery used to live, among other things. Blue C was recommended to me by my friend LM and my cousin Kristen, with whom I am staying, loves the place- which is saying a lot since she is not a fan of seafood.
If you haven’t eaten sushi this is a good place to start. If you don’t like sushi this is a good place to try again.