Sockeye Salmon Roll
My dad took my sister and I to Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar when he was visiting recently. He always wants to eat seafood - oysters, at least - when visiting the coast, which is a pretty good thing to do! I've been curious about Blue Water Cafe for a while, it's got a strong reputation though it's a bit more upscale than anywhere I usually eat and it always seems packed any night of the week. We couldn't get a reservation on a Thursday night except at the sushi bar which turned out to be really fun, watching "raw bar chef" Yoshihiro Tabo and his team ceaselessly slicing and preparing their mostly Japanese/West Coast Japanese dishes. We ordered primarily from the raw menu which consists of oysters, sushi, sashimi and some "small plates" like tuna tataki, softshell crab karaage and goma-ae. I liked the toro (tuna belly) and beef sashimi most; the tuna was insanely fresh, I think you can actually see it beginning to liquefy in the photo, transcending the edifice of "fish meat", already reaching toward its true, greater purpose as a substance of pure flavor (yeah it was that good). It was so fresh and "melt in your mouth" that it managed only to suggest its state of matter as solid for a fleeting moment upon lingual contact - a matter of textural formality - before surrendering. Ungh, delicious!
My dad also ordered the beef tenderloin with swiss chard and cavatelli pasta gratin with bleu benedictine chanterelle mushrooms, pearl onions and bordelaise sauce. The steak itself was impressive but even the pasta gratin could have stood alone on the menu, making this dish a much better value than a comparable cut of beef at a steak house where accompanying items often seem like afterthoughts to make a plate-of-steak appear less empty. It's easy to understand what makes Blue Water Cafe (+ Raw Bar) such a popular Yaletown destination, it's not really the kind of place that suits me or my budget but it didn't feel pretentious or gimmicky and every dish and sliver of fish came across with an honest simplicity underscored by very carefully calculated preparation.