Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beluga... Dining or Clubbing?

Having lived just around the corner from Beluga for the past 2 years, our visit was long overdue.  We had passed this place a number of times, considered it, and always passed over it thinking it was a bit expensive.  But last night we were up for a special night out and decided to give it a try.  

The website makes it look like a tranquil, very upscale, asian restaurant serving the finest sushi.  From an atmosphere perspective, we experienced the exact opposite.  We arrived pretty late (9:45pm on a Saturday), but as we walked in the door it was totally different than the expectation I had from looking at the website.  I felt like I was entering a club, and was surprised that no one stopped me for paying cover and stamping my hand.  The place was really like a party spot, and I didn't see anything that even resembled a dining room the whole time we were there.  

We had a reservation at 9pm, and I was not surprised that they didn't hold it (we were 45 minutes late, unacceptable and totally out of character for me).  We were told that the dining room was no longer seating people for dinner but that we could sit at the Sushi Bar.  They asked us to wait at the drinks bar until a spot opened at the Sushi Bar.  While there, I literally felt like I was at a club.  The music was loud, the lights were dark, there was neon all over the place, there were metrosexual guys with gelled hair and shirts opened up a couple of buttons prowling for chicks...  I was really questioning why we were there an if we really wanted to eat there.  We were considering leaving (realizing our other options at that hour were very limited) when we were called to our spot at the Sushi Bar.  

Just across the way they crammed us on the end of the sushi bar.  Unfortunately, we did not escape the drinks bar atmosphere.  All the other Sushi Bar seats were filled with the same crowd of people pounding beers (not eating sushi) like in any bar.  

We looked at the sushi menu and were very interested in some of the creative rolls.  They have a great selection of really cool sounding rolls.  In addition to the creative rolls (handsomely priced between $12 and $20), they also serve more traditional sushi and rolls on the paper menu where you tick the boxes.  This aspect could be missed, but shouldn't be, as those creative rolls are expensive.  The traditional rolls actually seemed reasonably priced between $3 and $7.  

One of the beauties of sitting at the sushi bar is typically to watch the sushi chef at work.  For some idiotic reason, you can only see the sushi chef from the shoulders up, and can't see him work.  Major design flaw with the sushi bar.  

Despite my negative feeling on the atmosphere, the sushi was really good.  The creative rolls delivered.  They were as fun and delicious as their descriptions on the menu.  My wife also ordered a Lychee martini which was fantastic.  Rare in this country to find Lychee, so it was a nice treat which brought back memories of a great trip we took to Australia.

My recommendation: don't go late on a Friday or Saturday night.  I will have to give this place another try at a more reasonable hour.  I am also interested in trying their hot menu as the dishes sound and look very good.

Beluga on Urbanspoon


Kitty said...

Don't forget 1/2 price sushi night, late nights on some evenings! they have some dining tables in the back, and a few in the front to the side, but you are totally right, it is very much like a club atmosphere. Don't they even have a disco ball?

Anonymous said...

Been here many times, and believe your experience was fairly typical--loud, crowded, terrible service. However, summers on patio are nice--and especially on Wednesdays for the 1/2 price sushi...desserts are great too.