Blu Oyster Sushi & Seafood Put 'Aw' in Raw!
Johns Island Eatery Sets the Bar High When It Comes to Fresh & Local
Jeff Walker, Restaurant Review
In business it's often said 'location, location, location'. The better you're situated the better your visibility. Although that principle may apply to most businesses finding high traffic areas more desirable, it's not necessarily tried and true for restaurants. If your in food and beverage than location can often take a backseat to simply serving up awesome food and beverage.
While Blu Oyster Sushi & Seafood could possibly do more business if they were located on Shem Creek or King Street in downtown Charleston, the upscale yet affordable eatery has been welcoming a steady flow of patrons to their Johns Island location for well over a year. The reason is simple, Blu Oyster serve up an awesome array of sushi, fish, shrimp and prime meats, almost all from local fishers and farmers.
As their website implies, whether it's oysters, seafood, or fresh catch of the day Blu Oyster puts the 'aww' in raw'! Sure you can get a handful of landlocked menu items such as a drool worthy Kimchi Burger, as well as standard meat and potato meals including a 12oz saki brined bone-in pork chop or a 4oz peppercorn crusted filet surrounded by a blend of parsnip puree, roasted rainbow carrots, and fried parsnip, served in au jus (natural juices).
However, if you do one thing great make it your focal point. As their name and subtitle suggests 90 percent of Blu Oyster's menu focuses on sushi and seafood, and that alone is why despite their John Island location they thrive with many patrons offering up four star reviews. From their selections of Breaking Bread aka appetizers to soups and salads, and from main entrees to their raw bar, Blu Oyster celebrate our love affair with tasty edibles from fresh and salt water.
Their Oyster Deviled Eggs are a sumptuous delicacy crafted using locally owned eggs from Storey Farms blanketed under fried oyster and topped with a mild yet smoky Yuzu tobiko aoili (an aromatic fish roe). Easily sets the taste buds on a culinary journey.
Blu Oyster's Steamed Mussels are equally intoxicating, served with your choice of bourbon bleu cheese sauce, curry, or basque (white wine w/ red peppers & tomatoes). Or if you just want to start out with more of a Charlestonian flair enjoy a bowl of their savory She Crab Soup in a sensuous creamy bisque. Ooh la-la.
If you adore fried seafood than their Blu Southern Platters will not disappoint. Shrimp, grouper, or oysters on their own or mix and match. Enjoy a triple fried seafood threat complete with hush puppies, waffle fries, cocktail or tartar sauce, and coleslaw for a cool $30. You can taste the freshness in every bite.
Blu Oyster offer six signature main entrees including Thai Salmon prepared with curry & coconut broth, pineapple couscous (a traditional North African steamed semolina), lemon ricotta, broccoli, and chives. Zesty and colorful. The Scallops Succotash unites Asian and southern cultures. Fresh scallops surrounded by a Thai peanut sauce, served with a sweet potato purée, ham hock succotash, with a hint of red wine reduction. Simply superb!
Another half dozen ala carte selections from Blu Oysters Fish Board including tuna, snapper, and steamed lobster, all served with your choice of herb whipped potato purée and sticky green beans, or a southern medley of red rice, brussels, in capers brown butter sauce to provide a Mediterranean panache.
Without a doubt Blu Oyster have one of the best raw bars in great Charleston, and their one dozen plus specialty sushi rolls are not only tastefully refreshing but several come cleverly named, including a couple paying homage to 1980's pop music. The Eye of the Tiger and Don't Worry, Be Snappy are laden with snapper and avocado, with tuna spicy mayo, eel sauce, and sesame completing the Tiger, and the Don't Worry rolled in scallion, masago, jalapeno, and a wasabi cilantro sauce for a hint of southwestern.
Blu Oyster's namesake rolled sushi is a swirl of avocado, cucumber, and fried oysters wrapped around a mix of kani, white sauce and tajin (natural chili peppers, lime & sea salt). It arouses a variety of the flavors meant to tingle the palate. Awesome sauce!
Blu Oyster serve up another 10 classic rolls, and for those who take uncooked to the max their Crispy Rice Tuna Nigiri and half dozen sashimi offerings are all the rage, many served as intended with eel sauce, spicy mayo, scallions, and masago.
Their dessert menu has an eclectic vibe. The Banana Pudding Cheesecake with salted caramel cream-cheese frosting and their Crème Brûlée with hints of lemon poppy seed crème and blueberry compote carry a low country impression. Cocoa lovers don't fret, the well dressed Tuxedo Cake aka a dark chocolate mousse cake frosted in white chocolate and a raspberry glaze drizzle will easily bookend a culinary journey.
What would good sushi and seafood be without good liquid refreshment. Blu Oyster carry a healthy selection of sakes (fermented rice) including the sparkling Awi Yuki. For a mere $18 enjoy a triple Sake Flight that consists of three fruit infused sakes as well as Well of Wisdom with its hint of watermelon.
From the cocktails bill of fare the Dragonfruit Sake Mojito is akin to an east meets west adult sipping beverage, laced with white rum, dragonfruit, mint, lime, in a sparkling sake base. True locals may opt for the Bold & Spicy Mary concocted from the Charleston bloody mary mix. Favor a cold brew, Blu Oyster pour several seafood appropriate beers with a few from local brewers including Fatty's, Edmund's Oast, a Munkle Pilsner, and the very apt Westbrook White Thai.
The sushi and the seafood would be rather ordinary without the visionaries behind Blu Oyster. Rick Agius and his wife Jennifer are the masterminds behind Garage 75, Tattooed Señorita, Zeppelin Pizza Co, and Dills & Camp Sundries. As their website declares, his dream from the beginning was to build up James and Johns Island to create hopping and happy spaces for locals and tourists alike. Mission accomplished! They've created an atmosphere already up for Best Seafood Restaurant in Charleston by the Charleston City Paper.
However, without a creative artisan overseeing the kitchen the food would not resonate off the plates. That's where Chef Jason Dupree comes into the picture. Not only is he committed to sustainable and local food practices, Jason networks with renowned low country purveyors to acquire the finest culinary ingredients available. If it isn't fresh he's not interested. Closing in on a nearly 20 year food & beverage career, Jason has been lauded for his genius in the kitchen and is among the finalists for Best Charleston Chef by the City Paper.
Their interior resembles their name with a vibrant sky blue and clam shell gray motif. Blu Oyster offer up two bars each with a large screen TV for catching up on the game while enjoying awesome food and drink with old and new friends. A covered patio area provides a nice setting when weather permits. No doubt the vintage car hostess stand will get patrons revved up for their dining experience.
Take your taste buds on a wild ride. Blu Oyster exemplify fresh and local. Much like Field of Dreams or in this case more like Field of Streams, 'if you build great sushi and seafood, they will come'. Open 5-9pm Mon-Thurs, 5-10pm Fri, 10-10pm Sat and Sun 10-9pm. Find Blu Oyster Sushi & Seafood at 1804 Crowne Commons Way on Johns Island or visit https://bluoystersushi.com/