Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sayonara Blue Fin

Blue Fin closed. It was one of my favorite Houston restaurants.

Why I liked Blue Fin so much

Perhaps it wasn't Houston's best Japanese restaurant -- although it was certainly in the running along with Kubo's, Teppay, Sasaki, Sushi Jin, and Nippon.

But I enjoyed eating there more than all the others. It was one of the most beautifully designed restaurants in town. I particularly liked the positioning of the sushi bar like a stage, raised up to be seen to all customers. There was even a bead curtain behind the sushi bar, leading backstage to the kitchen.

Fortunately, most of Blue Fin's creative appetizers and menu items are still available at its sister restaurant, Uptown Sushi.

But I am saddened because I don't know where to find Blue Fin's two master sushi chefs: Shoi and Uka. For decades, Shoi has been my favorite sushi chef in Houston. He always wowed the crowd at Blue Fin's predecessor, Nara. Although Blue Fin never had the same crowd, you could tell that many people went just to see Shoi. And the younger Uka created one of my favorite fusion rolls -- the Uka roll.

If anyone knows where these guys went, please tell me. Whoever hires them is fortunate.

What Happened?

I could tell Blue Fin would not survive. It never had the crowd of its inferior sister, Uptown Sushi.

Why? My guess is location. Far West Houston just wasn't the right spot for Blue Fin.

Blue Fin would have been a huge hit inside the West Loop. Consider Uptown Sushi. With its Galleria location, Uptown is constantly overflowing with 20-somethings with disposable income. For any glitzy-looking sushi restaurant, that has to be the target crowd. And that crowd tends to live near the Galleria, not in the far-west suburbs.

Blue Fin also didn't look right for the suburbs. I grew up in the suburbs. Most suburbanites want to be soothed, not excited. The problem with Blue Fin was that it did not look reassuring and comfortable. It looked hip and edgy.

Blue Fin's beautiful look made suburbanites suspicious. It looked overpriced. It looked like you needed to dress up. And folks in the suburbs don't want to have to dress up unless they go into town.

In short, Blue Fin was a beautiful fish out of water.

Sayonara Blue Fin. May your outstanding chefs find honorable work and more appreciative customers.

*Anonymous eater bows deeply*


rr said...

is the space empty? how big was it?

Peggy said...

Oh man! I'd always wanted to get over there as I'd heard good things, but never managed to make the time. An opportunity lost... I am bummed!

anonymouseater said...

It was a large space. There was a sizeable bar area with a number of spaces. The restaurant had at least 8 - 10 large booths on the outside edges and probably around 20 tables on the floor. There was an enclosed wine room with a large table.

It really was a beautiful space. I don't know whether it is empty now or not.

Steve said...

It was a fantastic restaurant, but definitely didn't fit the location. However, according to the B4-U-Eat website, "Edomae Sushi" is "coming soon" with the exact same address as Blue Fin. Perhaps just a restart?? Or just someone taking advantage of the already built-out space?

neverfull said...

they should open a sushi place in midtown. fish is the only place down there and it's not great.

Anonymous said...

my husband's cousin was a manager at blue fin... he's now moving back to uptown. we're all distressed that blue fin had to close down, but i guess everyone saw it coming.

by the way, have you checked out kenzo in the la cantera area out in katy? we think it's wonderful - beautiful space and delicious specialty rolls.

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

Does anyone know where Shoi Ikeda works now? please send me an email if you do. said...

Really effective material, thanks so much for the post.