Blue entices beginners and experts alike
Like many Omahans, Megan Simpson viewed her first sushi experience with trepidation. A sushi novice, she knew she had her work cut out for her when she began serving tables a decade ago at Blue Sushi Sake Grill, 144th and Maple streets. “I was terrified at the menu,” she admits.
But she quickly fell in love with sushi — and so did the rest of Omaha. Sushi has gone mainstream in Omaha, Simpson said, and Blue has been a big part of the shift. From a single location in 2002, the restaurant has grown to three Omaha locations with satellites in Fort Worth, TX and Denver. This May, Blue will open its sixth location in Lincoln’s Haymarket.
Simpson, now general manager of the original location at Eagle Run, attributes Blue’s enduring popularity to its fresh ingredients and swanky-but-comfortable vibe. Its diverse menu offers cooked and raw options aimed to woo a traditionally beef-loving public. A large maki, sashimi and nigiri menu is complemented by Asian-inspired cold plates, hot plates, entrees, soups, salads, desserts and an extensive sake list. The serene blue dining room invites sushi beginners and enthusiasts alike to relax and enjoy a unique environment.
The most popular menu items feature cooked fish: the Crunchy Blue specialty maki, a roll with spicy crab, cilantro, crispy panko and eel sauce; and the Crunchy L.A. specialty maki, with crab, avocado, Japanese cucumber, crispy panko and sweet chili sauce. Adventuresome options include the Hamachi Pop Rocks, a specialty sashimi with yellowtail, shisho leaf and a sprinkle of strawberry pop rocks for a nostalgic surprise. The Spanish Fly specialty maki is Simpson’s personal favorite: packed with kick, the rolls feature yellowtail, spicy crab, tuna, cilantro and serrano. Vegetarians and gluten-free diners will find plenty of options. Servers are trained to hone in on diners’ tastes and preferences, guiding them through the menu options. Blue’s experienced sushi chefs put attention, care and focus into each roll rolled.
Simpson credits Blue’s popular happy hour for enticing diners to dabble in sushi. From Monday to Saturday, 3-6:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon-8 p.m., diners can sample some of Blue’s most-ordered menu items and drinks at discounted prices. The restaurant also offers a reverse happy hour Friday and Saturday from 10:30 p.m.-midnight.
The restaurant also recently instituted Crunchy Thursday, featuring Blue’s four crunchy rolls — Crunchy Blue, Crunchy Red, Crunchy L.A. and Crunchy Cabbage— for $5 each all day Thursday. The bar also serves $2 bottles of Sapporo beer.
Simpson said a future remodel will incorporate the Sake Bombers Lounge, a fixture at other Blue locations. As Blue evolves, its patrons keep finding ways to come back for more. “It’s crazy to think about how many people in town are now sushi lovers,” Simpson said.
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
14450 Eagle Run Drive