Blue Fish Combines Culinary Influences – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News


Medford’s Hawaiian fusion restaurant run by Latin owners

Coconut Shrimp comes as a Hawaiian-style plate at Blue Fish in Medford. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]

Kalua pork rolls come with mango salsa for dipping at Medford’s Blue Fish. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]

Saimin is Hawaii’s traditional noodle soup served at Medford’s Blue Fish. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]

Pina coladas are plain or with rum at Medford’s Blue Fish. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]

Macaroni salad, right, and steamed white rice are staple sides of Hawaiian dishes, including coconut shrimp. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]

Kalua pork rolls come with mango salsa at Medford’s Blue Fish. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]

Pork char siu is the protein for Hawaiian saimin at Medford’s Blue Fish. [Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune]

Given the deep influence of Mexican heritage in southern Oregon and the growing presence of Pacific Islander culture, the intersection of the two cuisines was only a matter of time.

Blue Fish in the Albertson Mall west of Medford adds to the growing ranks of Hawaiian fusion restaurants. But the latest, which opened in March, is the only establishment in the area to boast a Latin influence and vibe, not to mention a family-friendly vibe.

Kids, my partner and I agreed, would be drawn to Blue Fish’s fruity drinks, lightly seasoned, meaty dishes, and TV screens tuned to sports broadcasts. A menu for under-10s offers teriyaki chicken, as well as fish ‘n’ chips, chicken fingers, and a burger with fries ($7-$8).

But I know my eldest son would plead for ribs or a teriyaki steak. Coming at lunchtime cuts prices several dollars down to $13. In classic Hawaiian style, almost every main course is served with steamed white rice and a house macaroni salad.

Fans of the island’s must-have “lunch dish” will find kalua pig — prepared the “lau lau” style by slow-roasting it in banana leaves — under the menu’s “Hawaiian favorites.” There’s also “loco moco,” ground beef, chicken katsu, and a “mixed plate,” priced from $11 for lunch to $18 for dinner.

Beef patties and kalua pig do double duty as sandwiches with fries ($10-$12). Yakisoba and “volcanic pasta” ($11-$16) reconfigure the meat and starch format, while several salads ($10-$13) appeal to veggie lovers. For soups, Blue Fish simmers Hawaiian saimin and their own take on ramen ($8-$13).

Nursing a cold for much of the week, I came to Blue Fish prepared for a piping hot tub of noodle soup. While I love eggs in ramen, I wasn’t so sold on the teriyaki chicken in Blue Fish’s version. So I selected the simplest recipe with only char sui pork protein, topped with shallots.

The coconut prawns jumped out at my partner, but he wondered if an appetizer serving would be enough for his meal. The server confirmed that the coconut shrimp was available not only as a starter, but also as a plate ($14 lunch, $18 dinner) with sides.

Also under the menu’s seafood heading are shrimp stir-fry ($13-$16), Kona beer fish ‘n’ chips ($13-$16) and fish tacos ($13-$16). $). The last of these dishes, along with Blue Fish’s cocktail list, is the most obvious expression of Cynthia Witzil and Israel Solis’ Latin roots. Underscoring partners’ desire for “one big party,” according to the Blue Fish website, half a dozen variations on the Margarita anchor a drinks menu that also features mojitos, palomas, mai tais, “mules.” and coladas.

Non-alcoholic pina coladas are also available, but my partner opted for the rum ($8). Served in an ironic tiki god glass, topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry, the drink felt more like a dessert on our palates, which made my partner say he had trouble detecting alcohol . But for the relatively low price, the composition and size of the drink was appropriate.

I was more interested in our kalua pork roll appetizer ($11), a true fusion dish that wraps Hawaii’s favorite pork in a flour tortilla to fry like an eggroll—or flauta. We only wish the rollers had been a little warmer.

Regardless of the culinary influence, the accompanying mango salsa was a simply sublime sauce. A perfect combination of sweetness and heat, the salsa benefited from almost chopped fruit in its consistency, which made for an easy and enthusiastic dip.

A double shot of salsa, also served with her coconut shrimp, was perfect for my partner. His plate had five large tailed butterfly prawns, their crispy batter wasn’t as sweet as some I’ve tried but sticks well to shellfish.

Generally disappointed with the white rice, my partner preferred the macaroni salad, which I agreed was exceptional, even against recipes I’ve tasted in Hawaii. I pointed out that generously incorporated mayonnaise was key, citing the Hawaiian cookbook my partner got me for Christmas, which gives mayonnaise food group status — not just a condiment.

In that same book, “Cook Real Hawai’i,” chef Sheldon Simeon reveals the depths of authentic saimin, which I have attempted to replicate at home. Let’s just say the results don’t really indicate how involved the process may be.

Saimin is a humble dish, and that’s how Blue Fish presents it: just noodles, a few slices of pork, and a clear broth. A single-serving stockpot with lid adds a dramatic element to this otherwise simple recipe.

Don’t expect the rich, dense flavor of traditional tonkotsu ramen broth. Blue Fish’s is light but smells like dashi.

While the broth and noodles tasted commercially made, the noodles were high quality and conscientiously cooked until done. The pork, likewise, was fairly standard but still tender and flavorful. Although I often can’t finish the noodle soups served in many restaurants, this was a well thought out portion for the very reasonable price of $8.

I was longing for a slice of coconut cream pie, but my partner and I agreed – or the guava cake – would have to wait until next time.

Located at 2382 W. Main St., Suites F and G, Blue Fish is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Order at bluefishhawaiianfusion.com or call 458-226-2028.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4494 or [email protected]

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