Restaurant Review #96: Blue Marlin, Sawtelle, West LA

Chicken and organic vegetables in sweet and spicy miso sauce

Update: Blue Marlin has permanently closed.

Blue Marlin has received a lot of bad press on Yelp, and I'm not sure why. It's one of my favorite restaurants, especially for the croquette curry, the risottos, and the tranquil atmosphere.

I wasn't thrilled with the organic dish because of the quality of the chicken. On the front page of the menu, Blue Marlin devotes a couple of paragraphs to how they use Jidori chickens and their eggs, saying that they are free range and organic and of far superior quality. But the chicken didn't taste special, and the cuts of meat they chose contained large chunks of fat--a big turn-off. My favorite things about this dish were the roasted acorn squash, the presentation, and the committment to organic ingredients.

Side salad with sweet and tangy miso dressing

I don't think my meal was supposed to come with a side salad and miso soup, but I got it anyway. In this case, the shredded carrot, purple cabbage, and slivers of red onion really made the flavor of the salad perfect. The dressing, though it's yellowy-orange color was a bit off-putting, was fantastic. I finished my salad and ate half of my friend's. I saw other tables getting bread baskets, but we didn't. I didn't care about this oversight though, since the salad and soup arrived within a few minutes of ordering, and I had plenty of food on the way. I'd award this dish "best non-albacore salad at a Japanese restaurant." Incidentally, albacore salad is also on the menu (I resisted the urge though, in favor of trying something new).

Scallop, wild mushroom and curry risotto

I normally don't like risotto, and I was skeptical of Japanese curry after being underwhelmed by Hurry Curry of Tokyo. However, by process of elimination and because I had a hankering for scallops, I ended up ordering this dish. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this curry was richly spiced and a bit hot. The scallops were tender, but the mushrooms seemed more of an afterthought, rather than a main component.

Croquette curry

The menu consists of risotto dishes, chicken dishes, hamburg steak dishes, curries, and a page and a half of spagetti. Maybe one day I'll try Japanese spaghetti, but it doesn't appeal to me for any reason beyond its bizarreness. There are quite a few desserts, including fried ice cream and a chocolate souffle.

Chocolate souffle

The dining room is casual, yet ambient

The dining room's decor seems carefully considered--the entire ceiling is skillfully painted with an aquatic theme, reflecting the restaurant's name while somehow avoiding kitch. Maybe that's because the wooden tables and bamboo blinds are so down-to-earth. There are about ten tables, and the restaurant is quiet and moderately popular, a good alternative to immensely crowded places like Hide Sushi and Asahi Ramen if you're not in the mood to wait at 6:30 pm on a Sunday. The service was friendly, prompt, and very smiley.

Cost of this meal for two including tax, tip, and a lemonade: About $30

Blue Marlin

2121 Sawtelle
Los Angeles, CA 90025


elmomonster said...

Nice!!! The food reminds me of Cafe Hiro in Cypress, my favorite restaurant. Of course, there's a reason for that, both the chefs at Blue Marlin and Cafe Hiro worked together at one point in time with Nobu Matsuhisha

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Amy, i like blue marlin a lot. I'm really into the japanese/italian joints. I've eaten their croquettes (so-so), mushroom risotto (very good) and curry (more on the sweet side). i think the prices are reasonable and the plating is always delightful.

i'm probably going to make a wild mushroom curry spaghetti very soon. i'm not sure if BM has it, but it's definitely japanese-italianesque.

joanh said...

your pictures make the food look so amazing!!! the stuffed pork cutlet is usually pretty good and I agree with you about the dressing for the salad. I don't know what's in it, but it's soo good!

I had an experience with a very rude server last year and didn't go for awhile, but I think he's gone now.

I think I'll try the scallop risotto next time!