Sushi Sensation Bluefin Expands to Bala Cynwyd

B2 Bluefin is the third iteration of chef Yong Kim’s Japanese institution.



Kumamoto oysters with ponzu sauce. Photos by Steve Legato.

East Norriton’s Bluefin is a local sushi haven. Japanese cuisine aficionados flock there to enjoy chef Yong Kim’s unparalleled sea-faring creations prepared in his modest storefront along a nondescript sliver of Germantown Pike. Since it opened in 2000, the restaurant’s Zagat Survey food rating has gone head to head with that of Iron Chef-led Morimoto, Philadelphia’s own top-rated sushi venue.

Now, fans of Yong can enjoy his exceptional Asian offerings in Bala Cynwyd. Within the glassy corporate confines of 401 E. City Avenue is an elegant and roomy 150-seat, first-floor space formerly occupied by Chops Restaurant. Fully reconceptualized, the sleek, linear room has calming beige and gold accents and eye-catching planetary-like light fixtures hovering over lacquered dining room tables. An imposing mural situated behind the sushi bar bears the statutory visage of Buddha, passively watching Yong and his chefs as they wield their Japanese knives with precision.

Spicy tuna sundae.

Chef's dumplings.

The quality of the fish at B2 Bluefin is positively idiomatic. The tuna taster—delicately plated whispers of ruby red akami, melt-in-your-mouth otoro, and glistening chūtoro —is well worth the cost for the cleanest, highest-grade fish available. Or, try the spicy tuna sundae, playfully served in a parfait glass and studded with avocado, cashews and roe tossed in a peppery mayo.

Elsewhere on the menu, pristine slices of sashimi, tender rice blankets of sushi and symmetrical hand rolls abound. The Bluefin Roll (grilled eel and roe atop crabmeat, cucumber and avocado) is sweet and saline, crunchy and creamy. I’d gladly take the spicy hamachi-topped Noname II Roll over quick-serve maki any day—even with the shrimps’ tempura coating as soggy as it was during my first visit.

Heirloom tuna tataki.

At B2, Yong strives to balance non-fish fare with land-based proteins, like a juicy, pan-seared chicken and tender filet mignon. An assortment of dumplings, including the chef’s dumplings, which are filled with a satisfying grind of marinated beef intermingled with earthy maitake mushrooms, are also on offer. The dumplings’ gossamer wonton wrappers shimmer like tessellation patterns in their straw-hued pool of smoky, mirin-tinged broth. Decadent lobster mac and cheese is given a nice miso-seasoned kick.

B2 Bluefin's main dining area.

Sushi omakase (chef's choice).

Unlike the BYOB original, B2 has a full liquor license, complemented by a beguiling backlighted bar. Sartorial, well-spoken mixologist Jarrod Williams has crafted a laudable cocktail program (the lemony Japanese Sour is a mouth-puckering winner), and his globe-trotting wine list is sensibly fortified with a thoughtful selection of sakes.

Kim has come a long way since his debut. Yet another Bluefin premiered this summer in Exton’s Eagleview Town Center, completing a trifecta. If this tenacious chef can maintain the consistency to go with his trademark quality, then B2 is sure to be as pleasing to sushi fanatics as his original has been in for the last 17 years.

401 E. City Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 227-1507, www.b2bluefin.com

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