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Bumblefish in Old Town

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I am so sad. This place is not ready for prime time. I had been meaning to try this place because I love Asian food and I really really love bubble tea and they had both.
First: the bubble tea -- comes from a powder. Not a good sign. I don't think Alexandrians are hip to bubble tea yet because they told me that it would take 5 mins to cook the tapioca balls -- must not be a big seller. Second, the guy said that it would be his first time making it. I tried the Chai flavored powder. While I was waiting, I ordered a shrimp spring roll. (actually a salad roll) This was made to order, using sushi shrimp, which would have been fine but these were tasteless. It was so loosely constructed, it fell apart when I bit into it. No sprouts, no mint, no chives.... it was so bland. The homemade peanut sauce was fiery. Much too spicy. I'll stick with hoisin and crushed peanuts. And the rice paper was still stiff and tough.
Worst: the bubble tea--- the guy gave me the drink with the straw upside down, so I nearly cut my lip on the business end of the straw. I had to flip it right side up with my fingers. The tea was so sugary and sweet that literally when I smacked my lips, they were glued together. It was like drinking sugary non dairy creamer (which, essentially, was what it is)
The tapioca bubbles were undercooked and raw, gritty, and hard in the middle. All in all, a mess. I guess I'll have to continue making the trek out to Eden center for my boba cravings!

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  1. I have eaten sushi at Bumblefish twice and both times the sushi was very good, fresh and tasty. I got the prepackaged sushi in the case so maybe that made a difference. Their seaweed salad is also good. When I was there last weekend the place was packed. That corner of Old Town has changed hands a couple of times recently and needs something like this so I am willing to give them time. Can't speak to the bubble tea because I haven't tried it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: milocat

      I totally agree that the location really needs a place like this. I will have to go back for the sushi and stick with the seaweed salad. The only other place I've had good sushi in Old Town is Tokyo Japanese Steak House on the water. (that tiny place further down King Street across from the Discovery store is not very good.)

      1. re: anhdeluxe

        I've had good sushi at the place near the Trader Joe's, good value at lunchtime.

        1. re: anhdeluxe

          MoMo Sushi (next to Bilbo Baggins) is good, as was Flying Fish the one time I tried it.

          1. re: sweth

            I've always enjoyed flying fish (and they have a hip bar downstairs) weekday lil hideaway is at 66 Canal Plaza they have good sushi and hibachi tables, great escape for a week day lunch.

            1. re: MollyElise

              I was not impressed with Flying Fish. Service was slow and the food was just so-so. I didn't find this place hip at all. I thought it needed a nice remodel.

      2. Oh, my... I have to respectfully disagree with you. I love this place, a lot. I actually go there more than twice a week for lunch as do many of my colleagues. They have only been open a month, and odds are, the guy was indeed new and with a new place and a new guy, yes, it may have been his first time making a bubbletea. I admit, I'm no bubbletea expert like you but I think it's more a drink for the kids with its sugary sweetness. Bumblefish once told my friend that they use organic soy milk with fresh-brewed jasmine green tea, which seems kinda cool. As for the spring rolls, I took cooking classes throughout Vietman (Hoi An, Halong Bay, HMC) and the Vietnamese never used chives or sprouts in their spring rolls. Although I do like mint, which I think would be a great addition to Bumblefish's broad menu... yummy!

        3 Replies
        1. re: greeneggsmiahamm

          really...all you bumblefish lovers, please advise me as to which sushi you recommend there. I want them to get better, I really do. I love that they carry Ito-En bottled tea...it's the best for a hot summer day. I've always wanted to try MoMo. I've had good sushi at Bonsai Garden on 23rd street in Crystal City (White tuna was great -- gimmicky but really mild), and at Matsutake at the airport (don't laugh! the uni was superb and fresh!) and the tuna calpachio (sp) at the Matsutake at Ballston is pretty yummy too. Stay away from the Matsutake in Crystal City. I will never eat there again. Greeneggs --my mom made them with both sprouts and chives -- could it be a regional thing? Now I'm homesick...

          1. re: anhdeluxe

            Yes, ANH, I think spring rolls are a indeed regional thing, tapioca or rice wrappers, noodles, carrots, yes, even sprouts, mint, and chives (YUM! :) or even roasted pork or smoked salmon. I think anything is game these days. As for my favorite Bumblefish rolls, I like their "Eeling Groovy" and Spicy Tuna rolls. The nigiri is excellent, too. I haven't really had any Bumblefish roll I didn't like so far. When I was there last week, they had a delicious Spicy Thai Crunchy Roll that they were experimenting with, so good! Their menu on www.bumblefishsushi.com is pretty broad and I'm still making my way thru it!

            1. re: greeneggsmiahamm

              I will give them points for a clever menu. "You Sank My Battered Shrimp Roll"? C'mon, who wouldn't love that??

        2. I have only seen the outside of Bumblefish and taken a look at their menu but have yet to try the sushi. I'm always wary about pre-made sushi so I don't really have a desire to try this place. If you're in Old Town and want good sushi, try MoMo Sushi and Cafe as someone else suggested (next to Bilbo Baggins off of Queen Street). They make their sushi to order and the owners are nice. Seating is pretty limited but the sushi tastes fresh. Much better than sushi that's been sitting for a bit! They also have lunch specials box but I really like their spicy crunchy salmon and tuna rolls.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hawaiiansushi

            The sushi isn't pre-made in the sense that Whole Foods or Trader Joe's is. They make it that day and stock up for the lunch time rush. They will also make you a "fresh" roll if they are out of something you would like.

            My hands-down favorite is the cheesy california roll -- it's a great twist on the original. I've tried a few other rolls and treats there and haven't had something I didn't like. I definitely recommend the dumplings, too!