The Bleu Monkey Café

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (7 votes)

UPDATE: Relocated to 163 Marshall Street, formerly Aladdin's Natural Eatery, in early 2011.

When The Bleu Monkey Café opened on Marshall Street in 2005, its menu was a blend of both American and Asian influences.  But in the first week, faulty kitchen appliances that forced the restaurant to offer only sushi items changed the culinary vision of the small establishment.  American food was soon eliminated from the menu and the eatery became a house of strictly Asian-inspired dishes.  A few years later, Bleu Monkey is the capstone of authentic Asian cuisine on The Hill, serving anything from specialty rolls to side orders of wasabi, pickled ginger, and steamed rice seven days a week.  

When To Go:  In most cases, it’s good advice to shy away from restaurants during busy hours. But when we’re talking about raw fish, a heavy, steady flow of patrons is a good thing.  A high turnover of customers means a high turnover of fish.  And you don’t want fish that has been sitting around. That’s when you get the foul fishy odor that smells like the bottom of a boat and gives you an upset stomach one hour later.  Bleu Monkey starts to get busy around 6 p.m. when the dinnertime rush begins, and the crowd usually doesn’t let up until about 9 or 10 p.m.  Regular hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday, Noon to 11 p.m. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but if you call in advance they can give you an estimated wait time based on the size of your party.  Bottom line: Good things come to those who wait.  

On Tap:  Sorry folks, if you’re looking for a place to go late-night sake bombing with friends, Bleu Monkey isn’t that type of establishment.  The restaurant doesn’t have a liquor license, but it serves a bevy of alternative “pick-me-ups” to simulate the mood such as Red Bull Cola, Aloe Juice, and Grass Jelly w/Lichi. Bottom line: Trade the booze for fun, non-alcoholic brews.   

The Scene: Although Bleu Monkey recently relocated on Marshall Street to a larger site that includes a downstairs dining area, tables and seating are still limited.  The cramped space, however, is just one of “the Monkey’s” many charms that helps maintain a sense of intimacy not offered by commercial establishments.  The ambience is, not surprisingly, Asian-inspired.  Dim lighting, soft wall colors, and floral table covers complete the theme.  The only thing out of place is the background music — a steady flow of pop/rock hits that might be better suited for a Hard Rock Café than The Bleu Monkey Café. Bottom line: Green tea + sushi bar + floral designs = nice, authentic Asian experience

“Bleu” Plate Special: There are the usual suspects — miso soup, California rolls, spicy tuna, and shrimp tempura — but if want to get the full Bleu Monkey experience (not just some run-of-the-mill sushi-chain chow) go for the specialty rolls.  The Cobra Roll (Tempura shrimp, avocado, topped with tuna, avocado, spicy sauce and teriyaki sauce), the Diablo Roll (Salmon, scallions, tempura flakes, topped with crabmeat, fish roe and extra spicey sauce), and the Ha Ha Roll (Unagi, crabmeat, scallions topped with shrimp, avocado, spicy sauce and teriyaki sauce) are some of the joint’s most popular items.  Still not satisfied?  Finish the meal with sesame, red bean, green tea, or ginger ice cream — it’s not your average Häagen Dazs.  Bottom line: Step out of your comfort zone. Your taste buds will thank you.  

The Crew:  Since it first opened, the Monkey has grown in size to a team of five trained sushi chefs. The open view sushi bar allows diners to watch the masters at work while their dishes are prepared tableside.  The wait staff is friendly, though the service can be fairly slow.  If you’re in a rush, ask for the check in advance.  Bottom line: It’s dinner and theatre all in one — including the intermission.      

The Deets:

Location: The Bleu Monkey Café is located at 147 Marshall Street, sandwiched between Some Girls Boutique and Charney’s On Campus.

Venue: The facility is equipped with a party room to accommodate up to 24 guests.  Party platters are also available to order in advance. 

Take Out: Delivery is available direct to the dorm, office, or home via TakeOutXpress, which can be accessed through The Bleu Monkey Web site.

Payment Options: Takes all major credit cards and cash.

Bottom line: The paragon of Marshall’s large stable of culturally diverse cuisines. 

Review by Dina Spector


163 Marshall Street
Syracuse, NY 13244
(315) 474-0099

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