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Jan 31, 2009 12:20 PM

New chef at Blowfish, still rockin' (Cgy)

I had lunch at Blowfish (11th Ave SW, just west of Broken City/Amsterdam Rhino, etc) after too many weeks away and got to check out the renos (it was closed for much of Dec-Jan for them). New lighter paint scheme brightens the joint up; the huge lamps were brought down from ceiling height, and unfortunately due to insoluble ventilation issues they had to close off the opening b/t kitchen and dining room where I used to sit and watch the sushi chefs- it's now a sort of black-glass window with the Blowfish logo in clear letters- so the kitchen is still visible but no more being handed your plates from the chef directly. So it goes- in most respects I'd call it an improvement.

So I sat at the bar (the bar bar; there is no "sushi bar" per se) and ordered yellowtail belly sashimi and one each yam-avocado roll and spicy tuna roll. I have--I am ashamed to admit this but here goes--I have never ordered sashimi. I've eaten it when others have ordered it and it's not that I'm squeamish; I just have never ordered it, so this was a new thing for me. One order of nigiri at Blowfish is, as many of you already know, a two-piece assortment with one piece done trad "naked" and other duded-up in some way; seared maybe, or with a slice of pepper or something like that. With sashimi an order is four slices of fish and a little of the accompanying shredded cabbage. As with nigiri, half is plain raw fish, and in the case of this yellowtail, half was lightly seared. Spectacular! Beautiful cuts and the seared ones in particular were just delicious- warm on top, cool on the bottom, loved this.

The rolls are always a treat for me but this time they were exceptionally well-formed and gorgeously plated. The spicy tuna has a filling of avocado and some fried bits, tempura batter I think, and the tuna is draped over the outside- this means that Blowfish does not use macerated scraps for its spicy tuna. And the slices were super-thin and draped artfully so that there were three of these thin slices on each bite of the roll- this can't be easy to do and in fact I've never seen a roll arranged as carefully as this. WIth the yam-avocado there is tempura sweet potato inside and thin slices of avocado outside, done with as much care as the tuna had been. On each morsel of this roll is a small dollop of mango mayonnaise. Too pretty for words and, more importantly, the tastes were as delicious as any sushi I've had anywhere.

I talked to owner Gemma and she asked if I'd met the new chef. New chef? Apparently the former chef has moved to Canmore. And as much as I loved Blowfish before, it's done the impossible by improving on perfection with this new chef. I didn't get to meet him (another problem with the closed-off kitchen) but will look forward to more meals there.

Lunch was $32, pricey lunch but worth every penny.

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  1. We went to the former chef's Canmore restaurant the other day - it's in a new lodge behind Craig's Waystation/Tim Horton's on Bow Valley Trail heading west. The sushi was very good, the best in Canmore now ahead of Marra's Way & Chef's Studio - but the location is extremely out of the way - it was a beautiful room & the owners/servers were ultra friendly - i just hope they survive.

    It's called Wild Orchid Bistro & it's at the Silver Creek Lodge....

    Wild Orchid Asian Bistro and Lounge
    1818 Mountain Avenue, Canmore T1W 3M3

    1 Reply
    1. Ok your post is making me salivate! Gotta get to Blowfish soon I think DH & I are due another date night hehe.

      Btw, speaking of Chef's leaving... Alain Chabot is supposed to be leaving Il Sogno to go over to Sky 360... nothing on Il Sogno's site to indicate they have someone new at the helm. You usually know these kinds of things before me JM, any info?

      2 Replies
      1. re: maplesugar

        I just heard what you just posted- I have an elevation pass at the tower (a must for skyscraper geeks like me!) and inquired and heard the same story.

        1. re: maplesugar

          YUP. chef chabot has been at the tower for a month now... Spent the last month cleaning out the kitchen and setting up a new crew... Nobody in sight for Il Sogno. Chabot took most of his crew over to the tower with him! Kitchen is a bit thin over at il sogno... too bad, the room is beautiful, however the kitchen is a bit bleak.

        2. This wouldn't be Gemma, the Korean lady that owned "Gemma's Kitchen" on 16th Ave about 14th Street NW, would it?

          2 Replies
          1. re: CalgaryHound

            no no no- this one Chinese and I think I'm getting the name wrong anyway :-)

            1. re: John Manzo

              I believe her name is Jemmy--she was the evening coordinator at a wedding I helped to plan.

          2. Thanks for the update! I used to love going to Blowfish but somehow it fell off my radar and I haven't been for over a year - I'll definitely have to try it out again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hsk

              I went by Sunterra today and noticed that all their sushi now comes from Blowfish. I didn't try it but will. No doubt it'll be better than the sushi they used to have even though I'm sure it's not as good as going to Blowfish to eat.

            2. Went again for Dine Out Calgary and it was just horrible. Bad service (our server was nice but clueless, didn't know what Kirin was when we ordered it) and the calamari (ika karage) was tasty but lukewarm like it had been sitting for a while. It was NOT busy, no reason why the food was sitting, the server was obviously new and inexperienced, the more experienced person was behind the bar texting on her cell phone. Rice was gluey in the sushi, we picked off the toppings after the first bite. I used to love this place. I'm not sure what's happened. Maybe it was just the Dine out menu. I'll try it again and see.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hsk

                I hope this was just a bad night- bad rice is the deal breaker.