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Review: Jellyfish

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Oct 2, 2012 6:00PM

Jellyfish are quietly mesmerizing to the eyes, and the Gold Coast’s newest sushi spot is no exception. The first thing that strikes you when you enter the Jellyfish premises is the penumbra of cool blue light permeating the restaurant’s upstairs space like a futuristic phosphorescence. It’s trippy aquatic cool and had us doing an underwater-inspired happy dance as we made our way up the narrow stairwell. The freshness of the food fulfills on the promise of the design, leaving you feeling cleaner inside than when you entered. Only the service struck us as needlessly chilly in a place already abounding in cool.

Sushi, as we see it, is about more than eating raw fish. It's as close to an Eastern experience as many of us will get, meaning we expect a certain serene level of attention from the servers. And in this Jellyfish disappointed. We sat for 15 minutes before being approached by our server and didn’t receive our miso soup for an equal period of time after placing our order. But what’s 15 minutes here or there of an evening? Not much, all things considered, especially when gazing upon the glittery farrago of Rush Street nightlife while luxuriating in the smoothest of white leather chairs in the shade of soft ornamental grasses. Still, we felt a little ignored.

And so we bided our time with a more cow bell cocktail, mixed with shochu, peach liquor, lemon-lime soda, and organic vanilla yogurt. You might imagine the cerebral direction in which discourse traveled from there; Will Ferrell imitations did not go undone. Unfortunately, that’s the only drink on the menu with a moniker that makes for a fertile conversation starter. Aside from this single libation, the restaurant failed to provide any further openings for Christopher Walken humor. More’s the pity. And more cow bell, because it was tasty.

When it arrived, our bowl of miso ($5) contained a larger quantity of shiitake mushrooms than we had thought possible for it to hold. In addition to the soup, we ordered the signature kiss of fire ($15), laden with spicy tuna, jalapeno, white tuna, salmon, and wasabi sauce, and the spicy salmon roll ($8) as well as the eel ($4) and fatty tuna ($8) nigiri. At first we were told that the fatty tuna might not be available. The shipment had come in, but our waitress reported that the chef, picky artist type that he is, was doubtful of its quality. Fortunately, it made the cut and our palates ratified the executive decision. Everything tasted as fresh as we could wish. True, the kiss of fire was more like a peck than a whole smooch of jalapeno, but it was a very good peck and one that left us longing for more. The spicy salmon also provided a savory example of a seasoned chef making the most of our favorite classic roll.

We like to approach eating out as an event, even when we do it every night of the week, and sushi will never fail to be the most prized of such occasions—we still love the simple act of embracing our maki with wooden chopsticks that much. Not that the chopsticks at Jellyfish are wooden. True to their environment, they’re a slick stainless steel, all too characteristic of a sushi restaurant well on its way to becoming a nicely oiled machine. With more overt signs of life from the staff, we can only hope that it will become a more human experience into the bargain.

Jellyfish is located at 1009 N. Rush St.