L and I aren’t that big on sushi, but when a friend offered to take us to Blu, a visually upscale sushi bar in downtown Evanston, we couldn’t turn it down. The restaurant was empty when we entered (usually not a good sign), but were surprised by the avant-garde decorations that seem more at home in a New York or Chicago nightclub than a sushi bar.
With the upscale decor, we were shocked to realize that the $7-13 lunch specials were for an entire lunch plate, not just a single piece of sushi. L avoided the sushi route and ordered chicken bento – grilled teriyaki chicken on a rice bed, plus vegetable tempura and a salad. M decided to try the sushi (going against a number of past eating experiences) and ordered blu maki bento – 3 sushi of shrimp tempura, 3 of spicy tuna, and a small salad.
To start, both meals came with free miso soup that surpassed our expectations of what miso soup should taste like. I in particular am not a big tofu fan, but I found this miso to be flavorful and light, unlike other thicker, over-tofu-ed misos I’ve had in the past.
But our main dishes easily stole the show. The food, on both of our plates, was beautifully presented far beyond what was necessary for a relatively quick and cheap lunch order. In addition, the amount of food we received was well beyond what we anticipated (the 10 sushi I received came out to about a dollar per roll, less than a fifth of sushi prices at similar establishments.) L’s chicken avoided the over-sugared problem of other teriyakis, and balanced nicely with the veggie tempura on the side. My sushi presented something of an eating challenge (I kept the chopsticks) but had a great time experimenting with the flavor combinations of raw tuna, shrimp, ginger, wasabi, and vegetables. The sushi was tasty and filling while managing to remain subtly flavored in all the right ways.
Overall, the food was beautifully presented, filling and tasty, and unbelievably cheap both for the amount of food and especially in comparison with other sushi places, particularly when you consider its Evanston location (not exactly known for the cheap eats) as well as the interior decor. A sushi place we might actually come back to!