During our long weekend trip to Omaha a few weeks ago, we decided to have a late lunch after doing some traveling around in the area. Cindy had seen a sushi place - Blue Sushi - on one of our walks around the Old Market and wanted to go there. Quite actually, I've had Blue Sushi on my "Restaurants to Visit" list on my computer for a long time. I had no problem with her suggestion for lunch.
The Blue Sushi location in the Old Market is one of three locations around the Omaha area. There is also a Blue Sushi in Fort Worth, TX and another location in the LoDo section of downtown Denver. All are under the corporate umbrella of Flagship Restaurant Group headed by CEO Nick Hogan. In addition to the Blue Sushi restaurants, Flagship Restaurant Group also oversees the operations of Roja Mexican Grill with two locations in Omaha, Blatt Beer and Table, a craft brew/restaurant in downtown Omaha, and the new Plank Seafood Restaurant that opened in the Old Market earlier this year.
The first Blue Sushi opened in Omaha in 2002 and I want to say that I had eaten at a location out in the western part of Omaha a number of years ago. But I'm not overly certain if that was the case or if I had actually eaten at another sushi place thinking it may have been a Blue Sushi location. The Old Market location also has an upstairs watering hole - Sake Bombers Lounge - that appears to be a pretty happening place during the nighttime hours.
We walked into the Blue Sushi in the Old Market a little after 2 p.m. (see map) We'd had a big breakfast and we were just looking for something light to tide us over until dinner. We were greeted by a hostess and I said we were just going to get a quick snack and if it was all right if we sat at the sushi bar. She had no problem with that.
Now, I'm not the most metro-sexual guy out there, and my wife is a pretty laid back lady when it comes to casual fashion. I was dressed in a polo shirt and a pair of khaki shorts. Cindy had a pair of chino jeans on with a cotton top. After we sat down, a young lady who was going to be our server came over to greet us. We may have looked like hayseeds to her because she asked us in what I deemed a very condescending fashion, "Have you guys ever had sushi before?"
Cindy and I sort of looked at one another and Cindy finally said, "Well, yeah!" The girl gave a little surprised "Oh!" for her reply and dropped off a couple of menus. I told her that we were going to just get some sushi for a light lunch. She left and came back with the sushi order menu and a couple pencils, silently dropping them off next to me. Cindy said, "She seems to have a little bit of an attitude."
I said to Cindy, "We might not be trendy or 'beautiful' enough for her tastes, dear."
The sushi menu at Blue Sushi features either 3 pieces of sashimi (without the rice) or 2 pieces of the nigiri (with the rice). It also had a number of specialty rolls on the menu. In addition to sushi, Blue Sushi also has a ahi tuna tacos, ceviche, steamed mussels, shrimp tempura and entrees such as a peppercorn ahi tuna steak and a Shishito pepper filet consisting of a pan-seared beef tenderloin filet with Shishito peppers (a sweet Japanese pepper).
Our server came back and asked us if we wanted any edamane, the snap beans that some sushi restaurants serve as a free appetizer, but Blue Sushi charges $5 bucks for. We declined, but I did ask her if they had Asahi beer. She said they did in both the 12 ounce and 21 ounce bottles. I took one of the big bottles of Asahi. Cindy asked for some green tea. The girl went back into the back for a moment, then came back out to inform Cindy that they were out of the green tea. A Japanese restaurant out of green tea? OK...
She then gave Cindy a verbal list of a number of teas that they had to offer that day. When she got to "Moroccan Mint", Cindy stopped her. "Oh, yeah. I've had the Moroccan Mint tea. I'll do that one."
The menu that we used to jot down our sushi choices had pretty small print. Even though it was sunny out and there was some light coming in the large east-facing windows, I was having trouble reading the menu. I didn't have my glasses with me and I thought I had ordered up a couple pieces of tuna nigiri, four pieces of smoked salmon nigiri and a spicy tuna roll. When our server came back to pick up the order, she looked it over and she said, "Do you really want the spicy octopus?"
I sort of looked at her funny and she pointed out that I had ordered the spicy tako - spicy octopus - instead of the spicy tekka - spicy tuna. I said, "I couldn't make out the 'tako' vs. 'tekka'." She took the menu and gave me a glance that told me she was silently thinking, "You rube..."
After she walked away, Cindy exclaimed, "What kind of look did she give YOU? I don't think I like this place. Too much attitude."
The place didn't seem to be all that busy and they had three sushi chefs working behind the counter. Cindy and were talking back and forth, and she finally stopped and said, "Do you notice anything different about the sushi chefs?"
I looked at them and sort of sized them up. Nothing really jumped out at me, but that's not surprising as my wife says I'm not very observant. She said, "None of the chefs are Japanese. They're all Hispanic."
Sure enough they were all speaking Spanish back and forth amongst themselves. I guess sushi chefs are sushi chefs, and not that there's anything bad about it, but I will say it is the first time I'd had Hispanic sushi chefs at a Japanese sushi restaurant.
As I said, it didn't appear to be all that busy in the restaurant, but our sushi - six pieces and a spicy tuna roll - was taking an extraordinary amount of time, especially for having three sushi chefs behind the bar. They were having "happy hour" at the Sake Bomb Lounge upstairs and we wondered if they were serving food up there because there was less than a dozen people in the dining area of Blue Sushi and the sushi chefs were all working feverishly. Over 20 minutes after we had given our order to our server, one of the sushi chefs handed over the platter across the cooling case to us with a quick apology for it taking so long.
The nigiri sushi featured thick pieces of fresh smoked salmon and tuna. The spicy tuna roll, however, seemed to be somewhat small in both circumference and in quantity of the tuna. Wrapped in seaweed, the individual pieces of the spicy tuna roll were not much larger than a U.S. quarter coin.
I will say that the smoked salmon was very good. It had a good smoked flavor to it and the fish had a wonderful body texture consistency when you bit into it.
The tuna was good, but not as good as the smoked salmon. It, too, had a good texture to the bite in the fish. The only problem was that when we dipped the nigiri into the soy sauce, the rice would fall apart. I learned awhile back from a sushi chef at a place I was eating at that if the rice falls apart when you dip it in the soy sauce, the rice didn't have enough white vinegar in it to help keep it moist. It was a minor hassle for us and certainly not a deal breaker.
With the long wait for our sushi, the small nature of the spicy tuna roll, and the somewhat condescending nature of our server, the taste of the very good sushi couldn't overpower our unhappiness with our experience at Blue Sushi. Maybe we caught them on a bad day and I just don't care for servers with attitudes. But it doesn't mean that I won't give Blue Sushi a try at some other point during a visit to Omaha - that is, if I'm in the mood for sushi instead of a great steak.