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Side Dish: Scallops at Blue Gingko in Dublin

Thin slice, big smile.


Nicholas Boer

Driving to Dublin for Japanese food while digesting a cheeseburger and potato salad might strike some as eccentric, or worse. However, I had my reasons: a) It was Blue Gingko’s opening night (Jan. 25), and b) the restaurant specializes in izakaya (small plates).

OK, it’s still a weird thing to do. Whatever. But I’m glad I went. The menu is divided into six categories, from lightest to heaviest, with the sushi listed on the back. Being completely stuffed, I ordered an item from category one (In the Raw).

The scallop, a.k.a. Bites of Joy, is expertly sliced—horizontally— into three medallions, which are brushed with tart miso aioli and torched (like crème brûlée). Each slice is draped over a knob of delicate sushi rice, sprinkled with citrusy yuzu, black tobiko, and crisp scallions, and served.

In one of the kitchens I worked, a running joke among the cooks was: “Thin slice, big smile.” This refers to a small portion of food (steak, swordfish, etc.) that appears big because it’s served thin. The customer smiles because it looks big, and the chef smiles because it isn’t (meaning a low food cost).

The scallop definitely looked ample and I was doubly happy when I popped it in my mouth and discovered an ethereal treat. My companion, who had consumed only a grilled cheese sandwich in the past hour, was even more delighted. So, before his reverie abated, I angled for the third, and last, Bite of Joy. His smile faded.

Then came the guilt. And my gastric juices kicked in. So we ordered more food. But—I’m somewhat proud to report—we never made it beyond category three.

3496 Blackhawk Plaza Cir., Danville, (925) 648-7838; 3762 Fallon Road, Dublin, (925) 248-2298; 3518 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette (925) 962-9020; bluegingkosushi.com. Dublin and Danville locations: lunch and dinner daily; Lafayette location: lunch and dinner Mon.­Sat.