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Aug 13, 2002 10:55 AM

Bluefin in Plymouth Meeting

  • j

Had a wonderful experience there last night. We stopped by on our way home from a trip to Reading. What a surprise, everything was great! Anyone else been there? Your thoughts...

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  1. Hi. Never been to Bluefin. More info please. What did you order? Dress code? Noisy?

    2 Replies
    1. re: ilana

      If I'm not mistaken believe it's japanese located on 202 just a couple miles north of Plymouth Mtg Mall, don't know anything else.

      1. re: SG

        Was just at Bluefin the other evening, had a great time. Sat at the sushi bar. Ordered their sushi dinner and a "Bluefin roll". The sushi dinner consisted of soup, nine assorted pieces of nigri sushi, and a "crunchy spicy tuna roll" -- one of their signature rolls. The spicy crunchy tuna was a normal spicy tuna roll with cruncy tempura pieces. And their Bluefin roll consisted of a california roll with slices of grilled eel on top with sprinkled fish roe. There was also a bit of desert at the end. Moderatly priced, wonderful atmosphere, and excellent taste. I know I'll definetly be back again.

        Location: Take West Germantown Pike (right hand turn after getting off of the PA Turnpike). Go for about a mile, its on your left hand side right before the area turns residential.

    2. One of the most overrated restaurants which I've ever had the pleasure of debunking. I cannot pre-determine that the lovers of this establishment have ever had sushi experiences in Philly or NYC, but I must believe a large segment has not.

      We arrived on a Wednesday evening. Mass confusion at the front door, as right away you could see they didn't have enough waitpersons and they were not highly trained. We stood halfway in and halfway out of the front door, peeking into the chatter-filled eatery. We found several empty tables, a few which needed bussing, and since our wait was beginning to grow, we began talking with the girl next to us who had been waiting about a half an hour for a takeout order. Nice start. Undaunted - we press on. Only available seating is at the sushi bar, where service (at most sushi places) is rather rapid. Not here. It took about a half an hour to get water and our order taken. The prelims came on time:

      1) Spicy Clear Noodle dish: Simply too spicy. My girlfriend eats spicy everything without a problem and this was really burning her up. Too much heat just eliminates good flavor, so what's the point? And the noodles, well, the texture was like rubber. You couldnt really bite or slurp them. Funny.

      2) Crab and Cucumber Salad: Absolutely the best thing we had. Fresh, sweet, light. For $2 more than the house salad at just $4.50, it's fabulous.

      3) Spicy Crunchy Salmon Rolls: These were not awful, but I go to a place in the city every week whose rolls are somewhat similar, but they're rolled much tighter and their sauce is a bit more flavorful. They're called "VIC", but don't tell anyone.

      4) Philadelphia Rolls: Jury is really out. My girlfriend doesn't like sushi, so she gets that. When you buy someone dinner and they say, "I know you like it though, so even though I want to gag, it doesnt matter, it's for you", you know their sushi opinion doesn't matter.

      Service - awful. Empty water glasses all the time. This may be because they only fill them halfway. I don't know if they went to the Benihana Training School, but they teach to do things like that on purpose. Give them less water so they drink what's there. Left over water is wasteful and hurts the costs. Even the waitress we had just seemed angry -maybe because there are not enough servers?

      We knew we were taking a chance on the location. It's a dump, truly. But when you go to leave such a let-down meal and see a drunk guy in the parking lot (from the bar RIGHT next door) walk out front and pull his shirt up for all to know you just don't belong here. Bluefin? I'm Blue finished.

      7 Replies
      1. re: DinerHashBrowns

        I've got to disagree. With a sushi place, it's really the fish that counts. It doesn't sound like you ate much of it (a Philadelphia Roll certainly doesn't count). I don't care about the decor (never a problem for real chowhounders, except if a place is unnecessarily formal) or really even the service (within limits). As a newcomer to the area, I've only been here once, but I thought it was far better than Osaka, our other local offering, which seems overrated to me. I lived for ten years in NYC and know good sushi (as far as I can tell Philly itself has very little to offer in the sushi department). This stuff wouldn't give Hatsuhana or Jewel Baku any sort of run for their money, but it's good enough.

        1. re: hanspetersen

          I have to agree with DinerHashBrowns. I was a regular there for a bit, but became quickly disenchanted with the very slow service (even at the sushi bar) and how unorganized the waitstaff was. The food itself was good, but the poor service quickly became tiring and annoying.

          Hans, with all due respect, there are plenty of good sushi offerings in Philadelphia that would give NYC sushi restaurants a "run for their money". Perhaps in NYC poor service is acceptable, but IMO (from someone who worked in the industry) there is never an excuse for poor service.

          1. re: mitchh

            Sorry Mitchh, there isn't much sushi in phila that would be giving n.y. a run for anything. Especially the 2 places Hans mentioned.

            1. re: mlpkroffal

              Where are two places that Hans mentioned? I'll be in NYC next month, perhaps I'll try one for lunch and the other for dinner.

          2. re: hanspetersen

            Sorry Hans, everything counts. That's the point. Even a Philadelphia Roll. Unless you're saying that only certain dishes need to be properly prepared and served? Interesting way of doing things. Is that column A and column B? Properly or Poorly - your choice based on what you select? Sorry - it's a service industry. It all counts. Should a standard hotel room be dirty because it's not a suite? I couldn't entertain anyone's opinion with that kind of viewpoint. A little too bush league for me.

            There's a tiny place in Philly around 20th and Chestnut called Vic. It's just take-out. Puts Bluefin to shame and you can have a 3-roll lunch special for 10 bucks. It's more fresh, more friendly and faster - and even the decor is pleasant - not that you care about that either, which is also amusing.

            1. re: DinerHashBrowns

              Not everything counts. One doesn't judge Peter Luger's by its token fish dish. A restaurant can be incredibly strong at some things, weak at others; as long as you know what the strengths are, the weaknesses don't matter. No sushi place should be judged by its Philadelphia Roll (except perhaps by the fact that it's on the menu).

              As for decor, if that's what you want to pay for that's fine by me. Sometimes it's a plus if it's interesting and unpretentious, but again, it's the food that counts. The best ethnic places are often pretty drab. Check out this thread on how unlovely strip malls are the center of chowhounding action:

              As for service, all things being equal better service is a good thing. (In NYC, if you're talking Manhattan you can't get away with bad service because there's just too much competition.) But as long as it's not surly or condescending, and as long as it's worth the wait, I'll put up with service that's less than perfect.

              1. re: hanspetersen

                Hopefully, not too many restaurant owners read that.

        2. I feel like I have to step in to defend Bluefin a bit :) It's simply my favorite restaurant. I've visited nearly all the sushi restaurants I could find in Center City, including Morimoto's and Gaijin, and a lot of the Japanese restaurants in the northwestern suburbs. None of them have even come close to Bluefin for freshness and quality of ingredients.

          Now, I can't speak about the sushi in New York, having only eaten at a single sushi place there, so it may well be that Bluefin pales in comparison. I like that Bluefin is casual and not stuffy. I like that they have unusual offerings such as Monkfish Liver (which was delicious). I like that their menu is not filled with your standard bland sushi. I love their Tuna Sundae - chunks of raw tuna topped with tobiko, wasabi tobiko, chopped cashews and avocado. I love that their salmon is always of stellar quality - buttery and rich. They have terrific tomago - fluffy and not too sweet; a perfect counterpoint to a dab of spicy wasabi. I even love the clear noodle salad, which I don't think is overspiced, but I have a higher tolerance for spicy foods than some people do.

          It may be that the atmosphere isn't for everyone; it can be a bit loud and crowded sometimes. The servers aren't the best I've ever encountered, but they're far from the worst too. I just know that every single time I leave Bluefin, I think to myself "I could turn around right now and order that whole meal again". For me, that's really the mark of a good restaurant.

          4 Replies
          1. re: gwebber

            Actually, it's the mark of a good take-out restaurant.

            1. re: DinerHashBrowns

              I want to step in and defend the Bluefin, too. It's right around the corner from my mom's house and I have always had delicious meals and been treated well by the staff.
              The Bluefin is one of the saving graces in that area where 98% of the restaurants are chains.

              1. re: emmkay

                Well, if it's around the corner from your mom's AND not a chain, it HAS to be wonderful.

            2. re: gwebber

              For some reason I couldn't find this post last night, so I posted a comment on our dinner at blue fin in a separate thread. We really enjoyed it - and can't wait to get back. I'm glad someone mentioned that the tuna sunday has cashews - I'll have to ask for it without!

            3. Went for lunch...will post about it soon.

              1 Reply
              1. re: percyn

                Having heard a lot about Bluefin in Plymouth Meeting, I decided to try this place out for lunch.

                I should mention that I don't usually order this much sushi for lunch, but given that I was going "research" and the fact that I rarely get long lunches, here is what I ordered....

                Salmon and Spicy Tuna Sushi Lunch Combo - Salmon was very fresh and the spicy tuna was decent.

                Uni - I had heard good things about their Uni, so I ordered some. Quite fresh and could taste the essence of the ocean, the true mark of fresh Uni. This only ranked second to the Uni I had at Okada at the Wynn in Las Vegas and compared to Uni I had in Japan.

                That was all I planned to order, but in the name of "research", I lay upon the sword ;-)

                Sashimi - White Tuna and Toro - The white tuna was magnificent and one of the most succulent pieces I have had. The toro on the other hand was a bit of a let down. They said it was Chutoro (belly area from the side) and even though I did not expect as much fat as in Otoro, it seemed a tad too lean.

                Special roll - 1/2 baked roll - Spicy Tuna, whitefish (bass), asparagus rolled then tempura fried.

                General observations - I arrived around 1pm on a Tues and despite the parking lot being full (there is parking in the rear), I was easily able to secure a seat at the almost empty Sushi bar and half the tables also seemed to be available. Service was friendly and fast (sometimes a bit too fast).

                The 4 sushi chefs were busy making sushi for the customers and also seemed to be prepping for the night. One of them was schucking scallops and cleaning them very meticulously while 2 others were prepping Unagi (Eel).

                So, is this place overrated or is it a hidden gem? While they may face some stiff competition from places in NYC or even Philly, in the burbs, they are a definite hidden gem and I will certainly be back to try some more sushi.

              2. I like doesn't compare to the sushi in Tsukiji, however....The service may not be the best, but it is hard to find good sushi in the Philly region.

                Is there actually a sushi restaurant in Center City called Gaijin? I have never heard of this and seeing as how Gaijin can be used as a derogatory term for white people by Japanese, this is one of the funniest things I have heard all day.

                1 Reply