The seafood destination of Vancouver that constantly topped rankings, including the top spot for Best Seafood for the last two years, this is the room when you want seafood cooked with experienced, capable hands. Dare I say, no where else?
A spacious room, maybe a bit casual for a fine dining restaurant, a small sushi bar facing off against an open kitchen raised an eyebrow: can a restaurant truly excel from splitting focus to provide raw sushi and cooked seafood? (My trip to Japan where I began to idolize restaurants that just focuses on ONE thing is still rubbing off me.) The sushi would have to wait another time, as we turned our attention to the cooked menu…
Seafood Tower – two tiers with oysters, prawns, seared red tuna, smoked salmon jellyfish, scallops ceviche, clams and mussels. An impressive array of fresh seafood, the presentation was designed to wow. The seared red tuna was especially delicious and meaty. My only issue with this was the prawn serving temperature: it was still frozen. Now I understood it was served on ice, but the natural flavor of the prawn was lost in the cold. I really prefer it to be served in room temperature – any lower should be outlawed.
Sablefish, miso sake glaze, baby bok choy, edamame quinoa and shiitake mushrooms, bonito dashi with soy and yuzu. The textbook way of doing sablefish, the subtle sweetness from the marinate matched the tender sablefish well – a dish that screamed Asian. But I did detect a certain firmness with the fish and I’ve had sablefish that were even more tender before. Going through a bit of an identity crisis, the mild, chewy bok choy and the almost rock crunchy quinoa pairing didn’t work for me. A busy dish, sometimes less is more.
Artic Char, braised leeks, wakame seaweed, dungeness crab, noilly prat beurre blanc with trout caviar and pearl couscous. Loved the skin – almost like bacon from the ocean. The wonderfully creamy sauce and easily broken apart leeks moistened the fish with every bite.
White Sturgeon, pumpernickel crust, cauliflower puree, roasted golden chioggia beets, garnet beet agro dolce. Spared no expense in seasoning, the pumpernickel crust certainty did its mission to elevate the skin – a necessity when paired with the firm meat of the fish.
Warming up the seat as the gold winner of the Best Seafood category of Vancouver for I forgot how many years, Blue Water knows their fish well – whether in the raw from the sushi bar or cooked from the fully staffed open kitchen. While harsh critics might say the dishes lacked creativity, it made up in offering non-pretentious dishes by paying careful attention to cooking techniques and mindful use of seasoning and sides. With the exception of some minor annoyances I had with the seafood tower and sablefish, the three fishes I’ve tasted were cooked to near perfection. Blue Water is an institution Vancouver should be proud of having.