Saturday, June 20, 2009

My favorite Hollywood restaurant.

Sushi Blues Cafe

I discovered it around 1991. A narrow storefront, bar on the right, behind the musicians stand; tables aligned on the left, against the wall.
We hesitantly started ordering mainly their hot appetizers, with just one or two adventurous steps on sushi rolls. And a glass of white wine, or a bottle of their enigmatic Japanese beers.
And then there were the blues. We didn't even realize how good the food was till we got hooked. On the music and on the food. It was a different time in South Florida, and the options were limited.

This was sort of a little Chicago or New York corner, very friendly; where we would meet the kind of people we didn't suspect would be living in Hollywood, Florida: gentle, smiling, sometimes educated, and always happy.

It just became our favorite joint and we would take our out-of-town visitors every time to show them how life in Florida wasn't so boring after all. The fact is that, not only was this place our introduction to Sushi, it made us get a taste and an appetite for good jazz.
I still remember listening one night to this wonderful musician, a black kid on a mission, vibrantly playing all night, while his dad, for whom they have accommodated a chair on the side, kept vigilantly watching.

But things change.

A few years ago, the building on the Young Circle was boarded and the stores closed.

We eventually discovered the new Sushi Blues place. It was now on Harrison Street. Very different, beautifully decorated, modern, stylish. A "South Beach" look, if you mind.
We still found a couple of the original waiters; Yozo now known as a famous sushi expert, still smiles behind the counter. And Junko, the Japanese owner, who takes her chef occupation very seriously, still concocts wonderful inventions from time to time; sometimes stops at our table for a few seconds, because she has become sort of an old friend.

Even after the small fried fish tidbits have disappeared from the menu many years ago, and this menu has grown enormous, Sushi Blues is a sure bet when I just want a great dinner with some entertainment. Aside from the traditional sashimi and sushi, they have some very good fish plates. I can make it a big splurge or just a wine-and-appetizers affair.

Always close-to-perfect food.

I adopt restaurants where I am sure that I will never have a bad experience; where the quality is consistent, and the owners are proud of their profession. Sushi Blues Cafe is a good example.

They used to have music every night.

A few years ago, Ken Maslak, Junko's husband and co-owner of the restaurant, ruled that we would get music only on the weekends, starting Friday night. But they also started to present a wider musical variety. Ken knows how to choose good artists. He often joins them, but not always. He is a great saxophonist and plays a bunch of instruments, including the drums. Posters of his concerts in Europe and Asia cover one of the walls. One of their daughters is an international-class pianist and played sometimes in the past. Not any more.

I lately discovered that I could even invite some of these orthodox Jews friends, since the fish options are plenty. I am not at all religious myself, but that was one of the few places they would try, and they it's always love at first sight.

Where else can you dine while you enjoy concert-quality music for free?

Well, I am not a part-owner of this joint, nor am I on their advertising budget.

It's just something that I would like to share with my friends and customers. I had nothing better to blog about today.

Sushi Blues Cafe is on Harrison Street, a couple of blocks East of Dixie Highway.

Now Junko... how many more of these posts do I need to write, to get me a free dinner?
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