Blue Fin

Blue Fin
To everything – turn, turn, turn, There is a season – turn, turn, turn, And a time for every purpose under heaven.”

For some odd reason, the lyrics to this song started running through my head as I thought about our recent experience. There was a time when this was one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Boston. The place was so authentic, it had great sushi, and the prices could not be beat.

Situated in Porter Exchange, basically Boston’s version of Japantown, you could eat lunch here (paying only $1/piece for sushi), go shopping at the Japanese market, and then pick up some boba tea or Japanese baked good on your way out. I always loved getting some mochi ice cream treats from the ice cream shop.

Unfortunately, many things have changed since those glory days a few years ago.

Admittedly, some of the things are outside of Blue Fin’s control. First, Porter Exchange started charging for parking, something they had never done in the past. True, it’s only $1, but it’s still a deterrent, especially when coupled with a bunch of other reasons, such as . . . .

Lesley College, the university that owns Porter Exchange, decided to kick out the Japanese grocery store Kotobukiya in order to make room for a college bookstore. All of a sudden, one of the best reasons to visit Porter Exchange vanished in thin air overnight.

Furthermore, Blue Fin remodeled, expanded, became fancier, and raised their prices a lot. Our beloved sushi sets that averaged $1/piece were now closer to $1.50/piece. Bryan ordered the salmon ikura don (pictured above) off of the dinner menu. For $17 he got 4 slices of salmon and about a tablespoon or two of roe. It really didn’t feel like it was worth the money. My salmon lunch set (lower left corner) was reasonably priced at $9.95, but the quality of the fish suffered.
Sashimi Lunch Set
The best deal seemed to be the Sashimi Lunch Set (pictured above) which was only $15. Compared to Bryan’s $17 salmon ikura don, this really looks like a steal. Not only do you get 10 thick slices of quality fish (as opposed to Bryan’s four paltry slices), you also get a few nice sides, such as chilled tofu, salad, and shumai. I jealously eyed the thick tuna slices in this set while peering forlornly down at my own limp, artificially bright red tuna nigiri. Why the disparity?

Even though there was a time when we came here almost once a month, I’m sad to say that we hardly ever come here anymore. The higher prices, loss of the Japanese market, and having to pay for parking together are enough to drive us somewhere else for sushi. Our new favorite place to get $1/piece sushi is at Cafe Sushi in Harvard Square, which has this special pricing on Sunday evenings. For lunch, I would pick Fugakyu (which has excellent lunch specials!) any day over Blue Fin. I’ve also heard amazing things about Toraya in Arlington, which I am dying to try.

I still feel like I’m in mourning, though. Blue Fin is right in Porter, and I still do love how it has so many other tasty dishes such as the beef potato set (yum), the mini house salad, and other authentic dishes. The prices for most of their menu is really quite reasonable. Perhaps I just had a particularly bad experience for one reason or another.

What’s your favorite for reasonably priced sushi in Boston?

Blue Fin
Porter Square
1815 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
Blue Fin on Urbanspoon

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  1. says

    Mr. Sushi in Coolidge Corner, hands down. Excellent sushi every time. We love the chirashi threre. So sorry to hear about your bad Blue Fin experience. We hardly go there anymore because we’re always at Mr. Sushi, but we usually have a good sushi dinner there.

  2. brainiac says

    Bluefin in Porter Square…ah, brings me back. Thanks for the post — I’m feeling nostalgic. Japanese lunches should be fast and economical, which typically means cooked items (e.g. nikujaga) more than sashimi/sushi. You could eat more, pay less, and save up to splurge at a sushi bar later.

  3. says

    yup, all about toraya (though call ahead take-out is the best way to go, as the amount of time spent waiting for a table increases each time I visit). I think more people have suddenly discovered toraya in the past year…

  4. Jessica says

    This is so funny! I was at Porter Square last night to feed a chicken katsu curry craving only to find that my mecca, Cafe Mami, had inexplicably closed for the day when they only ever close on Tuesdays. Oh how nice to just close on a whim!

    My friend’s friend is a waiter at Blue Fin so we usually get free Sapporo and mochi. Their sesame mochi is to die for…. sometimes we walk into Blue Fin asking to buy it to go and sometimes they oblige, sometimes not so much.

    I like Genki Ya off of Coolidge Corner and Super Fusions in Washington Square/Watertown for affordable sushi. I can’t afford Fugakyu :( Also as an FYI, employees of the Kotobukiya market opened a Japanese market called Ebisuya in Medford Square and their made to order sushi is also convenient and reasonably priced. You can also get a (refrigerated) big unagi don bowl for about $4.

  5. jentinyurbankitchen says

    Hmm . .maybe it’s worth going back to Blue Fin to try the sesame mochi. :)

    Fugakyu is not that expensive at lunch! I think it’s one of the best values! Their lunch specials are around $12-$15 for a really nice sushi or sashimi set.

  6. jentinyurbankitchen says

    Thanks for the tip about Mr. Sushi. I’ll have to try it next time I’m in the neighborhood.

  7. says

    That’s sad to hear about Blue Fin. I used to live right in Porter a few years back and Blue Fin was a once a week stop (In addition to Cafe Mami). I was horrified when they closed Kotobukiya (sp?) to expand the bookstore, I already thought there was a lot of empty space (the space they recently remodeled to put a bank in for example).

    Now that I live across the river, I’ve been going to Super Fusion in Washington Square and GinGa in Coolidge Corner fairly often. Haven’t been to Fugakyu or Genki Ya lately but they’re on my short list too :)

    Also, Sea to You (haven’t been there yet) opened up south of Route 9 in Brookline as well. They had some groupons/buywithme/coupme coupons a while back as well.

  8. jentinyurbankitchen says

    I remember seeing the groupon/buywithme/coupme thing for Sea to You awhile back and I was tempted to buy it, except that it’s not that conveniently located for me. :) I need to try Superfusion again! (tried it once right when they opened but haven’t been back since)

  9. says

    I still haven’t been yet either, and I drive by it on the way home from work!!! Shame on me.

    I was at Super Fusion about a month and a half back and 3 of us sampled 5 of the special rolls. They were all fantastic! I remember the first time I went there was in the winter (food was great…drafty table not so much)

    I also forgot to mention another place: Fish Market in Allston. They opened up maybe a year ago. I’ve only been there once but it was excellent.

  10. says

    Just found your blog via twitter! Best combo of decent fish quality + reasonable price is Sushi Express in Brookline. Also for authentic Japanese food, I love Shiki in Coolidge Corner– get their non sushi food tho; lunch specials there are good, but dinner is very pricey.

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