Blue Ocean Sushi (6335 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-726-6477) calls itself the original home of all-you-can-eat sushi in St. Louis, but you don't have to gorge yourself to rake in the advantages of the flexible Japanese menu. The clean, open restaurant seems always to include an ideal amount of other customers (few), and the ability to watch sushi be made while you wait to eat it adds extra incentive to try the menu's more obscure items. Depending on the time of day you hunger for raw fish, the restaurant splits its hours into three menus: lunch, dinner and pure sushi, which is available at both. And while you agonize over the celebrity names (Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton) of the sushi sets, a slow-moving montage of massive rolls floats on a video screen in the corner for the sole purpose of upgrading your hunger (and likely also your bill).
And while it's all pretty saliva-inducing, we're focused solely on the lunch menu here. Blue Ocean Sushi covers the standard basics so that any lunch or dinner entree can be easily accompanied by edamame, gyoza or spring rolls, but only one item on the menu covers enough ground to function as a very miniature buffet in the space of one plate. And it's another basic: the bento box.
For $9, the restaurant's lunch-only bento box includes soup, a salad, fruit, pickled cucumbers and your choice of two scaled-down entree items. It's an easily adaptable meal: While meat-eaters have the option of ordering chicken katsu or a handful of other meat entrees, vegetarians can combine veggie tempura and, say, an avocado roll. The regular selection of sushi rolls is applicable for the meal, and specialty rolls come with an upgrade of $4. The entire meal is served to order in a series of small courses that ends with a tab much smaller than you'd expect from the timing and atmosphere.
Beginning last year, RFT restaurant critic Ian Froeb counted down -- in no particular order -- 100 of his favorite dishes in St. Louis. Now Gut Check has taken up where he left off. Check back frequently as we detail our 100 favorites, and don't hesitate to send us yours, too, either via the comments thread or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#70: Turkey Melt and Field Greens Salad at Schlafly Bottleworks #71: The Vegetarian Platter at Ranoush #72: Vegetarian Meatballs at Lucas Park Grille #73: Sizzling Rice Soup at Hunan and Peking Garden #74: Straw and Hay Pasta at Trattoria Marcella #75: Spaghetti Pomodoro at Babbo's Spaghetteria #76: Shrimp Fajitas at El Matador #77: Vegetable Quesadilla at Chava's #78: Companion Rustic Olive Bread #79: Salt and Pepper Shrimp from Wei Hong #80: Ba-Mee Mhoo Dang at Basil Spice #81: Catfish Platter at the Gumbo Shop #82: Shrimp & Andouille Flatbread at the Shaved Duck #83: Vegetarian Pasta at Terrene #84: Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms at Zia's #85: Legend Club at LeGrand's Market & Catering #86: City Coffeehouse & Crêperie's Nutella-Banana Crêpe #87: Raw Vegetable Lasagna at Scape #88: Quesadilla Azteca from Tower Tacos #89: The Perfect Pear at Foundation Grounds #90: Banh Mi Sandwich from Sweet Art #91: Chicken and Dumplings at Yummies Soul Food Cafe #92: Cuban Sandwich from La Tropicana #93: The Prosperity at Ruma's Deli #94: Cherry Cheese Danish from Missouri Baking Company #95: Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse #96: Egg Salad Sandwich at Township Grocer #97: Cheeseburger and Fries (Extra Crispy) at O'Connell's Pub #98 Mussels & Fries at Brasserie by Niche #99: Beef Taquitos Mexicanos at El Indio #100: Spinach Artichoke Dip at Cafe Eau