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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 see...you 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: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/302122

              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 delicious...you 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 Bluefin...it 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
                  1. its great food always fresh and I am very sorry you had a bad time, please I beg you to try again.

                    1. I was at Bluefin a few weeks after opened and was never interested in returning for many of the reasons cited here. However, just up Germantown Pike about a mile is the new Minado Japanese Sushi Buffet which is truly a first rate operation. I was skeptical about the "buffet" aspect at first but the range and quality of hot items, fresh salads and about two dozen choices of sushi and rolls is not to be passed up. At dinner, they open the hibachi for made-to-order hibachi and noodle dishes. Lunch is $15 and dinner is $25 for all you can eat. And all is superb.
                      Sorry, Bluefin, they have you trumped.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Chefpaulo

                        While, I have not tried Minado (yet), though, when it comes to sushi, I prefer quality over quantity, so the quality of the fish would have to be comparable or better than Bluefin for me to start visiting Minado.

                        1. re: percyn

                          Quality is assured at Minado as they process a large amount daily and the high turnover assures freshness. There are always six or seven sushi chefs slicing and rolling to keep up with the demand. And about 75% of the clientele at any given time is Asian. That reassures me that quality must be a priority.
                          I'll give Bluefin a second chance someday but my main reason for not returning was the "long-time, no-sea" speculation. My "fresh" sushi was rather borderline with a tad too much surfactant aroma for my palate. However, with a larger clientele, maybe they move enough these days for it to be an issue of the past.

                          1. re: Chefpaulo

                            Minado is popular with cost conscious families who want an atmosphere where their children can run around and shout without turning heads. It is an ideal location for certain sorts of get togethers. And you're right that they put out large quantities of sushi but that does not mean that they buy good fresh fish to begin with. They simply don't.

                            1. re: Chefpaulo

                              Quality is not associated with high turnover. Lets get that straight, it has to do with how old it is and if it was handled properly. geez

                          2. re: Chefpaulo

                            I am sorry but Minado is simply awful. It is a good spot to take a diner who has never eaten Sushi and would like to try in an environment where they can choose from a large variety and make a meal of other foods if they ultimately dislike it but it the quality is barely above the sushi rolls they sell at Genuardi's. Perhaps if you want to gorge yourself it is a good choice, but even then I would rather pay the price for a large quantity of good sushi then get all the lousy sushi I want for $25!

                            1. re: Kater

                              While I think that Minado is okay, Blue Fin's quality is far superior. Unfortunately their poor service has driven me away from there completely.

                              BTW, HansPeterson, I have been inquiring about sushi in NYC and not one person has recommended Hatsuhana or Jewel Baku.

                              1. re: mitchh

                                Minado is the Wal-Mart of sushi, e.g., big selection and decent value (depending on your definition of value). However, their sushi rice is horrible. Its texture is determined by the machine that forms the sushi rice. The place is kept clean and the staff is friendly, but we find ourselves eating there less and less. The quality of the hot food has also declined during the past year. Our favorite sushi is Bon Jung in Collegeville.

                                1. re: nevets


                                  I haven't been to Minado in quite some time so I'm sad to hear that the quality has gone down.

                                  I like Bon Jung a lot and typically do take out every Friday night. What disappoints me about Bon Jung is that there are rarely any specials (when there are, they won't do them as takeout) and there's nothing there that blows me away. It's very good, but the choices are a bit on the boring side.

                                  1. re: nevets

                                    I had the same thoughts on the rice at Minado's! it was simply awful.

                            2. I consider myself to be an experienced (and adventureous) sushi eater -- I have it prob once a week & have tried many of the popular places mentioned in & around the Philly area (Bon Jung, Morimoto, Raw, Hikaru, Shangrila, the 2 places in KOP that I can't remember the names of right now). That being said, I was disappointed w/ Bluefin. I knew it was going to be in a small strip mall location, but I didn't care, I was there for the fish! But after reading all of the hype, I found it to be average.

                              Here's what I mean by average: the uniqueness/ variety of the rolls didn't blow me away, and the fish quality was fine but, again, wasn't "oh my god amazing". The wasabi didn't seem fresh. It may sound funny, but I feel like the wasabi can tell you A LOT about the quality of a sushi place. If you've been to Morimoto, you know that they have the softest wasabi ever. It just feels & tastes super fresh. If you put your wasabi into your soy (like I do, although I learned that this is a big no-no if you were ever to go over to Japan), then you know that Morimoto wasabi just melts in the soy. Then there is other wasabi which is just kind of standard and then you have your really crappy quality wasabi that is like a hard little ball that breaks off almost in chunks (like grocery store sushi wasabi). Bluefin had average wasabi, it didn't taste uber fresh to me. Wasn't grocery store quality, but wasn't anything to write home about.

                              Oh, and, get this -- I found a black hair in my sushi roll!!!!!!! EEEEEWWWWWW! Of course it was just the hair from the head of the sushi chef, but still gross!

                              Bonjung is my local sushi place & I think it's great! Not worth it to me to drive to Bluefin, I think Bonjung is better.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: starbuck212

                                Please, where is bonjung? we are always interested in trying different sushi places.

                                  1. re: Philly

                                    Has anyone tried their Korean food? We haven't gone yet and I'd like to know which section of the menu is the best.

                                    1. re: Kater

                                      I love their Gal Bi (beef short-ribs) and stone hot Bi Bim Bap

                              2. After reading this post & posting about how I didn't care for Blue Fin, I decided to give it a second try. I ordered carryout from there Fri night -- 2 rollss and about 6 different pieces of sushi. Again, disappointed. Everything tasted good, but it was not mind-blowing, oh-my-god-this-is-the-best-sushi-I've-ever-had! The disappointment came in the size of the rolls & the over all value. small, narrow rolls -- and very pricey for what they were. I often bring home carryout sushi from BonJung and when I walked in the door w/ the blue fin sushi my husband was like "that's it??" and asked me how much I paid -- I told him -- $60 for 2 rolls and a smathering of individual sushi pieces -- and he was amazed at how poor of a value it was compared to what we get a BonJung. I agree. It was a good sushi, but not any better than BonJung -- and you don't get much for the $. You even get more value in the city at trendier restaurants like Raw. Sorry Blue Fin, I tried you once and I tried you again -- and both times you left me feeling underwhelmed.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: starbuck212


                                  For starters, once I find a "foreign substance" in my food, that's the last time I go back. That said I certainly wouldn't drive out of my way, which it seems like you did, to go back.

                                  That said, are you setting yourself up for disappointment? Not every meal has to be "mind-blowing, oh-my-god-this-is-the-best-sushi-I've-ever-had". If that is what you are expecting, you are going to be disappointed every time you go out for dinner.

                                  I am a big fan of Bon Jung and I order takeout there virtually every Friday night. That said I accept it for what it is, good local sushi, but nothing mind blowing. It's nothing compared to what Sushikazu used to be when Bruce was there and certainly nothing compared to Morimoto or any good downtown sushi restaurant.

                                  As for comparing Bon Jung to Blue Fin, the only thing that I can say is that the selection at Blue Fin blows (or at least it did) Bon Jung's away. Blue Fin often has "exotic" items such as live scallops when in season, when Bon Jung does not.

                                  Reading a bunch of these threads about dining in the suburbs and thinking about my own thoughts, I'm beginning to wonder if we are all setting our expectations too high. As I wrote above, not every meal has to be the best ever. There are plenty of restaurants in the suburbs that will give you a very good meal at a good price without the hassles of driving to the city.

                                  With that in mind, as the saying goes, the grass is not always greener on the other side. There are plenty of bad restaurants downtown too.

                                2. Went last night for the first time. I like my sushi more in rolls then traditional "slabs" so I am not a high-brow sushi guy. This place had excellent food at expensive prices. We had the temura shrimp sundae as well as the tuna sundae for apps, a few salads and a whole lotta rolls. Everyone else had sashimi as well, and I had a hand roll. I really enjoyed the rolls, all of which had raw fish on top (Davich, Marlee, and some other roll) and were really tasty. I can't speak to the texture of the wasabi but it was a great meal. The only shocker was the price - $200 with tip for 4. I go to Hana and spend half this much and we are not talking about a 50% drop-off in quality.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: phungi

                                    Has anyone been to Sushikazu lately?

                                    1. re: mitchh

                                      not in a few months. it was very good last time we went, but it isn't our favorite - it's so small inside I always feel crowded.

                                      1. re: jujuthomas


                                        Thanks for the reply about Sushikazu. I was once a regular there, but only have been back once since Bruce left 2 years ago. I may give it a shot to try something different though in the near future.

                                      2. re: mitchh

                                        I used to eat at Sushikazu at least once a month during it's early years (back when Udo-san was one of the sushi chefs). Bruce was an okay but not gifted sushi chef (though he worked hard to remember everyone's name). Bruce appeared to be "less then happy" during his last year or so there. New owners took over about a year ago. I've eaten there twice since then. The sushi is good but nothing special (we usual get rolls).