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Metro's Club of the Week

Blowfish Sushi to Die For
335 Santana Row, Suite 1010, San Jose; 408.345.3848; www.blowfishsushi.com

Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-midnight; Sake lounge open to 2am
Ambience: Matrix sushi bar goes futuristic Vegas
Amenities: Anime videos, DJs, sushi, sake lounge

By Todd Inoue

THE ATMOSPHERE inside the Santana Row sushi bar combines new Vegas opulence dressed up in L.A. exclusivity. Television screens broadcast PG-13 anime. Black-lacquer tables surround plush banquettes caressed with throw pillows you'll want to swipe. The well-lit sushi bar is manned by spiky-haired chefs who yell loud greetings as new customers sit down. The food, created by chef Ritsuo Tsuchida, is the subject of another column; when you can order ostrich, duck or puffer fish, it's obvious the staff has earned its reputation as mad culinary chemists.

The love of experimentation extends to the bar. The sleek and sexy sushi bar has a sake lounge with rice wines broken down by categories: dryness, unfiltered, cedar-aged, even "unusual." The clear elixir is served in chemistry beakers. Sake cocktails take the frat-boy element out of sake consumption; the most intriguing ones are the Mango Mojito (fresh mango and mint with sake) and the Cucumber Cooler (crushed cucumber, sake, lime juice and soda). The closest kin to a dreaded "sake bomb" is the Red Baron--house sake and Rock Star energy drink.

Service is 180 degrees from the Vegas or L.A. scenes--very helpful and accommodating. However, for those seeking a serene sake and sushi experience, Blowfish is oppressively loud--house music set at 126 BPMs or higher batters away from a sound system that dwarfs the majority of downtown San Jose nightclubs. On Thursdays-Saturdays, DJs spin similarly pumping music until 2am. At 11pm on a recent Saturday, the line going inside the neighboring V-Bar stretched to the sidewalk. The smart people waited out the line inside Blowfish, warming up on sake cocktails and Ritsu Rolls.

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From the July 31-August 6, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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