Restaurant Review Tokyo Bleu Cinnaminson, NJ

Oh the places you’ll go!  I love it when my husband comes home on the weekends and we run around and we find a new restaurant and decide on the spur of the moment to just pop in and see how the food is.  Of course, you stand as good a chance that the food will be bad as you do that the food will be good.  And sometimes, you find the food falls somewhere in the middle.  I think that’s where we are with Tokyo Blue.

Right on Route 130 in Cinnaminson, the outside of the restaurant looks like a Victorian house.  Step inside, though, and you are enveloped in warm and vibrant colors – orange, red, calming blue – each room seems to take on it’s own personality with the bright, beautiful colors on the wall.  The decor is minimal – a few paper lanterns hanging overhead, but pretty much nothing else.  That’s okay – it doesn’t need anything else.  The room we are in has about 12 tables, each of which can hold four people, and if you’re party is larger – as one party was while we were there – they just push the tables side by side.

We are promptly seated when we arrive, and within minutes, a waitress comes over and hands us each a hot towel, waiting while we clean our hands.  That’s a nice touch.  She returns after taking the used hot towels away and takes our drink order, and it is only a minute or two before she is back with our water and iced tea.  We start by ordering an appetizer of the seafood soup, mostly because I love the seafood tofu soup at our usual Japanese restaurant.  For $5, you could share, but it is no where near the size of the bowl at our regular restaurant.  The broth is sort of a beef colored broth, but doesn’t have a real beefy flavor – but it’s not a real vegetable flavor either, so it may be vegetable broth who’s flavor is affected by the ingredients in the soup.  The menu describes the soup as containing shrimp, scallop, king crab, and fish cake with vegetables.  I find mostly vegetables, with one leg portion of a king crab, no fish cake (although floating in a soup, I’m not sure I’d recognize one), one shrimp, and thin slices of scallop.  There are plenty of vegetables in the soup, though, and it is quite filling.  The flavor isn’t what I expected, though, so I decide not to fill up on this one.

We ordered a house special sushi roll.  They have a list of them that include rolls called “Godzilla”, “Black Jack”, and “Hot Girls”.  Not sure I can eat something called “Godzilla”, “Black Jack”, and, well, yeah I’m not eating that either, so we settle on the Orange Roll.  The $12.95 roll is said to feature King crab, tuna, salmon, avocado, and caviar rolled inside a cucumber sheet.  Again, they seem to be trying to pack too many flavors in and things get lost.  The predominant flavor is the cucumber, followed closely by the avocado.  I’d be hard pressed to identify any of the other flavors, as the fish is sliced so thin that the taste of fish gets lost.  That’s a shame. 

The tables around us all seem to be ordering large sushi entrees, and everything looks fresh (okay, like I would know what fresh sushi looked like – but it doesn’t smell fishy, so that’s a good sign, no?).  We make our selections from the Bleu Signature Dish options on the menu.  These are four dishes that the restaurant lays claim to perfecting, and what better way to get a feel for the restaurant than with their signature dishes?

The vibe they want you to get here is obviously Sweet.  Lots of Sweet.  Jim orders the Crispy Red Snapper, at $15.95.  Plating on the dish is beautiful, and the piece of fish is really generous.  It is exactly as described, fried crispy, but light, and it has a nice crunch with a tender fish inside.  It is covered in a home made black bean sauce and veggies, and while the sauce is really very tasty, it is really very sweet as well.  Fortunately, the fish holds up to the sauce, so the dish is definitely worth trying.  Unfortunately for me, having the gastric bypass issues, sweet is generally not my friend.  I took two small bites of the dish, and I would have gladly eaten more if the imminent threat of sugar shock wasn’t hanging over my head. 

Keeping with the scallop kick I find myself on, I ordered, SURPRISE, the grilled scallops.  Charcoal grilled is how they are advertised on the menu, but you couldn’t really tell how they were prepared, because there was a LOT of sauce on the dish.  There is nothing light about this dish, which is really what you might expect when you order grilled scallops.  Plate presentation is beautiful, with the same garnishes that were on Jim’s fish plate.  The sauce is a wasabi honey sauce, although it takes a second or third bite of the dish before I start to feel the heat from the wasabi.  I like that it doesn’t over power the other flavors, and it definitely isn’t too hot that you can’t enjoy the dish.  It was more of a nice snap behind the sweetness of the honey.  The sauce is thicker than I expected, and not an appealing color (think the brown gravy they put on pork or chicken in a diner), but it has good flavors.  The portion is generous for the $16.95 price tag.

We opted to skip dessert, but the waitress brought out an orange, peeled and cut into chunks, then reassembled.  It is garnished by what tasted like canned pineapple chunks.  It was a nice gesture, but after having such sweet dishes, this sort of seemed like overkill.  This probably makes the perfect finale to a sushi dinner, though, so if we go here again, we’ll stick to the sushi menu.

Overall, the meal wasn’t an unpleasant experience, just one that fell a little short of our favorite Japanese meals in the past.  We were flanked on either side by repeat customers, so familiar with the staff that one table inquired about a waitress that had been waiting on the arrival of her new baby when they last visited.  They were loudly overjoyed when they received the news that a baby boy had arrived!  It’s nice that they have not only repeat customers, but ones that are familiar to that extent with the waitstaff.

The total meal cost about $60.  I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars, being generous because I love the colors and the decor, plus the personal touches like the hot towel and orange. 

Pros:

The hot towels, personal attention, and the complimentary “dessert”

Cons:

Too sweet sauces, sushi seemed to be lacking something

Do You Have To Speak French? My Love of Julien Dore

The winner of the 15th season of France’s version of American Idol (A La Recherche De La Nouvelle Star) was Julien Dore.  He’s quirky, adorable, and has a good, contemporary singing voice.  You can find quite a few songs he has done in English, but he is, afterall, the winner of the FRENCH verion of Pop Idol, so he is primarily a FRENCH performer. 

He has one song called Les Limites, which I think is fabulous!  It’s got a quirky little video – three of them actually – attached to it, and it’s a peppy, funky little song.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH4khf0AM7k Go – listen to it – you’ll enjoy it. 

But do you have to know French to enjoy the song?  I’ve found a pretty literal translation, which is hard enough to read in English, but I don’t think it matters.  He could be saying his name over and over, it’s just a fun song to listen to. 

Does it matter? 

Marco Who?

Just a mommy blog here –

We’re driving to school this morning.  We dropped Brighid off, and for some reason, despite a lack of water and swimming facilities, Eilis decides to start a game of Marco Polo with Granuaile.  Eilis, ever the big sister, decides she’ll start, so she says, “MARCO!” real loud in the seat behind me.  Granuaile, in true 3 year old, almost fully potty trained fashion, screams back “PULL-UP!”  This goes on two or three times before Eilis realizes that Gracie has not said “POLO” at all, and she corrects her.  This time, after Eilis yelled out “MARCO!”, Granuaile corrected herself and yelled back, “PILLOW!”  It was about then that Eilis decided maybe she should be the “POLO” part….