Good Taste: Sushi Is Back in Black

Food news and views on the Bay Area's most surprising flavors

Having not been to San Francisco's Blowfish in the better part of a decade, we jumped on an opportunity to sample from a newly expanded and revised menu. There's a staggering amount of selections, including a greater emphasis on shareable entrees in addition to both classic and creative takes on sushi rolls. Set to a DJ-spun soundtrack mainly comprised of remixes of pop songs that veered from fun to absurd, the atmosphere in the restaurant is intentionally upbeat and playful.

Every time we looked around at another table, there was some sort of unusual element on it, whether an oddly shaped bowl teeming with the fog of dry ice or a multicolored tower of tartare and avocado. Our own table held the unusual sight of a spinning replica of a giant gun barrel that was loaded with bullet-shaped containers holding oyster shooters. But with so much color and action going on around us, what was most impressive was all in basic black.

The Beauty is a sushi roll filled with scallop tempura, crab, and the byproduct of an unexpected third creature of the sea; the rice is colored black with the inclusion of squid ink. The wonderfully briny ingredient is more of a usual suspect in the city's Spanish-inflected restaurants such as Contigo, Picaro, and Alegrias, where arroz negro is part of the paella offerings, but Blowfish executive chef Ritsuo Tsuchida flips the remix even better than the DJ.

Incidentally, one item Blowfish does not serve regularly is its poisonous namesake (fugu in Japanese), though it is available on special advance order for the next few weeks ($280 for a five-course meal for two). If you want to defy death on a budget, though, we recommend imbibing in the fugu-infused sake at Ame, which is served only in the winter months.

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