Stepping Out: The Drunken Fish

| Scene Reporter

rating: 4/5 stars

Now that I’m 21, I can finally legally review a restaurant with a name like “The Drunken Fish.” I’d feel a little silly only discussing the fish. The Drunken Fish is a classy sushi restaurant and lounge with two locations near campus: one in the Central West End and another at Laclede’s Landing. I visited the one in the Central West End, which was lively on a weekend evening.

Red- and black-colored walls and dim lighting provided by small candles on the hardwood tables added to the sleek and stylish feel, while the friendly waitstaff accentuated the restaurant’s pleasant vibe. The Drunken Fish has an extensive, almost overwhelming menu, with plenty of sushi options, as well as dinner dishes, desserts and cocktails.

I first tried two appetizers: gyoza and seaweed salad. The gyoza, essentially the Japanese version of Chinese potstickers, consisted of several small, soft, fried dumplings stuffed with pork and vegetables, with soy sauce served on the side. They were not out-of-this-world delicious but were flavorful and filling.

Meanwhile, I was quite uncertain about the seaweed salad, but one of my friends urged me to try it. As I placed the thin green strands of seaweed in my mouth, I expected to taste a fishy string of slime. Instead, I swallowed delicious soy-flavored, salty and sweet (though admittedly slimy) threads of goodness.

The sushi, like the gyoza, was tasty but not amazing. It arrived on long white plates with wasabi and ginger. I sampled the shrimp tempura roll, which consisted of five pieces of sushi with fried pieces of shrimp, asparagus, masago (a bright orange variety of fish roe) and Japanese mayo. I also tried the spider roll, which consisted of eight pieces of sushi, including fried soft-shell crab, asparagus, masago and Japanese mayo. Both rolls were good, but I felt they skimped a bit on the actual shrimp and crab, and the sauce could have had more of a kick. I would recommend the spider roll over the shrimp tempura roll—you get more sushi, and the crab offers a sweeter, more exciting flavor than the shrimp.

The Drunken Fish also offers plenty of alternatives for those not too keen on sushi, including chicken teriyaki, pan-seared scallops and vegetable tempura, as well as various noodle and soup dishes. For those willing to pay extra, the restaurant prepares such intriguing entrées as tempura-fried lobster and filet mignon teriyaki.

Moving to the “drunken” side of the menu, the restaurant’s cocktail list boasts plenty of exciting options, from the Sake Waterfall (sake, vodka, watermelon Schnapps and lime served chilled) to the Blue Eyed Asian (Blue Curacao, coconut, melon and a splash of orange juice) to the Key Lime Pie Martini (Stoli Vanil, coconut rum, melon and a splash of sour orange juice, cream, lime and syrup). The Drunken Fish also serves an array of beers, wines and house sakes.

I had to try what was perhaps the most intriguing option: The Drunken Fishbowl. This enormous glass bowl, like a wine glass on steroids, was filled with a reddish, purplish mix of rum, vodka, melon and amaretto flavors with cranberry juice. Wedges of fresh orange and pineapple decorated the rim, while ice cubes, maraschino cherries and more pieces of orange and pineapple floated within. Once it was confirmed that no one in the party had swine flu, the hefty bowl was passed around. Three people in our group proclaimed that the Fishbowl was gross and tasted like cough syrup. Another friend said she thought it was great. Finally, it was my turn. I took the thin black straw to my lips and felt the alcohol-infused liquid rush through my mouth. I actually agreed with everyone: While it did vaguely taste like cough syrup, it was also delicious, providing a sweet and fruity flavor with strong alcoholic undertones.

Obviously, though, the goodness of this drink depends on personal preference. The only problem was that this gigantic glass full of alcohol was initially ordered for six people, and now only two were attempting to consume it. I was going to say, “Don’t try this at home,” but we weren’t at home—we were at The Drunken Fish, and what better place is there to drink a Drunken Fishbowl? My only recommendation is that if you do decide to take the plunge into the Fishbowl with a friend, consider just ordering the regular size ($8) rather than the large ($18). This will save you a little time, money and maybe some self-respect.

So whether you’re ordering a glass of floating fruit and rum or simply a glass of water, fun times are sure to be had by all at this chic sushi establishment. Be sure to check out their new extended happy hour with half-price non-signature rolls and half-price signature martinis from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 p.m. to midnight on Sundays. Just watch out before you decide to dive into any deep “drunken” fishbowls!