Saturday, April 3, 2010

BLUE WASABI of Arizona

The wasabi is blue.

No, really—it’s not green, but blue in color, thanks to food coloring and a brilliant gimmick that’s so clever, they even named the restaurant after it.

Introducing Blue Wasabi Sushi & Martini Bar in Arizona, a hip and highly addictive sushi joint that combines culinary wizardry with creative genius. Take the sushi rolls, for example: There’s Squid Vicious, (fried calamari with “vicious” sauce), Get Clucked (a tempura chicken roll), and Dirty Sanchez (a tempura number with eel, avocado, crab, jalapeno and cream cheese, smeared with a “sweet soy glaze”). Or how about a P.I.T.A. (Pain in the Ass) Roll? Perhaps so named, I surmise, because it’s a pain in the ass to fashion the cucumber wrap in which this roll is encased?

But just because the names are a play on words, that doesn’t mean taste is not serious business in this place. Each plate is fit for a queen—er, diva—with the presentation so perfect that you almost don’t want to touch it, decent-size portions, and a deliciousness so potent that it feels like it should be illegal.

After they plunk down your napkin and mini dish of ginger and cobalt-blue wasabi (you suspect it tastes different but it tastes just like regular wasabi), you are handed the martini menu—which is also chockfull of delightfully naughty titles, such as Nice Melons, Eve’s Appletini, Milky Way, Buttah Face. Little happy face logos next to a drink’s name indicate that it’s 50 percent off during happy hour (between 4:30 and 6:30 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays). In keeping with the color scheme, the restaurant also hosts “Blue Sundays,” when all alcohol is half off if you wear something that is blue in hue.

Tropic Thunder, touted as a “New Taste!” on the menu, is worth every cent of its $13.50 price. Recommended to me by the restaurant manager, who insists it is like “a party in the mouth,” this pineapple-salsa-laden wonder boasts panko-crusted shrimp, spicy crab and avocado, with shrimp draped across the top. The hot crunch of the fried shrimp blends perfectly with the cold and refreshing tropical essence of the salsa, which besides pineapple has jalapeno and cilantro in it.

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