A piece of sushi, like a key, fits neatly into mouths and can be used to escape a prison run by cats. Evade whiskered captors with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of contemporary sushi, Japanese cuisine, and drinks at Blue Ocean.
The culinary artisans at the Zagat-rated Blue Ocean fuse traditional Japanese fare with innovative flavors on their way to being lauded by Gayot as one of the top 10 sushi restaurants in Chicago. The menu pays homage to traditional classics such as nigiri and sashimi ($2.50–$4.50) and chicken teriyaki bento boxes ($19) but earns its merits with clever updates to traditional sushi rolls. Spicy tuna over crispy rice gets a kick from light citrus mayo and jalapeño ($11); the ocean drive signature roll enfolds fresh tuna and yellowtail in a soybean paper embrace, seasoned with cilantro, chili oil, and lime juice ($16). A rice wine sampler allows diners to survey an array of Japanese rice wines ($6), and an aloe martini soothes scorched tongues more quickly than a make-out session with a snowman ($10).
Blue Ocean's chefs craft an expansive menu of contemporary Japanese fare, pairing plates of savory gyoza with specialty maki trimmed with elegant ornamentation. Behind the sushi bar, chefs slice "as-fresh-as-it-gets" yellowtail and salmon sashimi, according to Gayot, which ranked Blue Ocean as one of Chicago's top 10 sushi restaurants. Chefs also prep and dice rolls, blending conventional victuals with inventive fixings such as mozzarella cheese, pico de gallo, or an entire wild-caught piñata. The interior contrasts muted, contemporary furnishings with vivid murals of neon coral and lighting fixtures evocative of the luminescent sea urchins that brighten the streets of metropolitan Atlantis.