Review: Blue Ginger Sushi & Lounge (Woodridge)
Sadly, I decided to try this place for a mini-celebration last night. In general, it was a horrible disappointment.
Decor: 3/5. The place looks uber-chic, with lots of blues and reds, dim lighting, and generally going for a city hipster look more than anything else. Lots of tables, which may explain why the rest of the experience turned out so lousy. The decor is a bit odd considering it's in a strip mall next to one of those "Tilted Kilt" pseudo-Hooters bars.
Service: 1/5. This is pretty much what ruined it for the entire evening. We were seated at 7:15, and had to wait about ten minutes for our waitress to take a drink order. Once that was done, we received our drinks, but she immediately left without asking for our food order. About 5-10 minutes later, she came back for the food order. We ordered no appetizers, just four of the house special maki rolls. After placing our order, she then told us the sushi bar was "backed up," and it would be about 20 minutes. I thought it was odd that they wouldn't tell us that up front, so we could have ordered an appetizer or put in a food order immediately. And then, we waited...and waited...and waited. The tables around us all waited with us. A collective spirit of dismay and hunger settled over the crowd. On the far side of the room, I could see one table get served multiple times. But the four or five tables in my vicinity...nothing. After 45 minutes, the server came by to say it was "almost ready." At 55 minutes, the tables in our section all got bowls of edamame to tide us over, which was particularly annoying to me because I really don't like edamame. I'm not sure what could happen at a sushi restaurant with six sushi chefs to create a wait like that, but it was ridiculous. At no time did the manager or anybody say a thing; instead, we got a sad look from our mostly-absentee waitress every 20 minutes or so. After 1 hour, 15 minutes, the table next to us began to leave, and we prepared to do the same, and were then told the food was ready.
Food: 3/5. First off, the sushi menu is overwhelmingly large, rather awkwardly so. A lot of choices can be a good thing, but so many of their rolls use similar ingredients (the vast majority invove spicy tuna or spicy mayo, so trying to find varied tastes is a bit difficult). The sushi itself was interesting, but the "special rolls" were rather expensive, with many in the $12-$17 range. We had the following rolls:
- Candy Striper (shrimp tempura, grilled pineapple, cucumber, avocado & spicy mayo wrapped with yellow fin tuna & super white tuna)
- Smoky Bear (kabocha tempura, cream cheese, cucumber & avocado wrapped with smoked salmon drizzled with unagi sauce)
- Tuna Jackpot (fresh cuts of yellow fin tuna, super white tuna, cucumber & asparagus topped with red tobiko)
- Crunch Punch (spicy tuna, yuzu seasoned crab meat, cream cheese, cucumber & avocado rolled in tempura crunch drizzled with unagi sauce)
The Tuna Jackpot was pretty flavorless, but the other three rolls were generally good. Of course, there was not a single concession on our bill for the ridiculous wait we experienced, so I guess they felt the 50 cents worth of edamame they gave us made everything even. The bill for the four rolls plus three drinks was $70. I can say that the wine and beer prices seemed fair.
Unfortunately, in the end, first impressions mean a lot, and because of this experience, I probably won't return.
Blue Ginger Sushi & Lounge
6320 Route 53 Suite 100, Woodridge, IL 60517
I haven't tried Sushi Mono; I have heard rather mixed reviews, and I don't get out to Wheaton much. However, since you ask, I will try and get out there and report back.
I did recently try Dao in Burr Ridge, which was okay. We had some very slow service at the start (we waited about 20 minutes before I had to go up to the hostess and ask to see a server), and it was a bit pricey (4 rolls + one drink = $63). The sushi was interesting and generally good (I tried the Spider, Weber, Alaskan, and Rainbow rolls; all but the Alaskan were good, the Alaskan a bit flavorless, the Rainbow unevenly sliced), but they use a lot of similar combinations in their rolls, so there's a limited amount of variety. But I will probably try them again.
200 Burr Ridge Pkwy, Burr Ridge, IL 60527
To be honest, the most reliable place I've found in the west suburbs is a chain--Kona Grill in Oak Brook. The sushi is moderately creative, the prices are fair, and the service is excellent. It surprises me that a small chain restaurant could put out quality sushi, but I find myself going there far more than any of the other sushi places in the west suburbs, and I would put their sushi up against a better-than-average place in the city, although certainly not up there with my favorites (Coast, Mirai).
As for the other places in the west suburbs, here's my take on them:
- Yokohama (Westmont): Fairly good overall, very tiny place, with ridiculously large rolls. One piece of a maki roll looks about the size of a hockey puck, and it's incredibly awkward to eat. I've given this place a few tries, but I just end up liking other places better.
- Aodake (Darien): Don't bother. Below average food and atmosphere.
-Tai San Chef (Darien): Excellent Chinese and Thai food--still my #1 place for takeout--but the sushi is strictly average.
- Ra (Lombard): A little more hip than the usual places I frequent. Creative sushi, but I found the atmosphere to loud and annoying, and to be honest, the sushi just didn't impress me in either flavor or variety.
- Bistro Nami (Clarendon Hills): This is my second runner-up in the suburban sushi category. Very creative work, a little pricier than average, but very nice ambiance and friendly owners. Never terribly crowded when I have been in there, so I worry that they won't be around long. I go there every couple months or so.
- Sushi House (Westmont): Pretty much average across the board. Nothing exciting happening here. I had a better experience at Sushi House in Naperville, so perhaps I need to give them another try, or it's a location-specific issue.
2020 W. Division St., Chicago, IL 60622
439 Ogden Ave, Clarendon Hills, IL 60514