The newest addition to Downtown San Diego’s hopping Gaslamp Quarter hopes to quench your thirst with sweet frozen cocktails and slay your appetite with shareable plates and sizable entrees tastily blending Asian and American flavors. But it’s doing so much more than that! In fact, here are 11 reasons your San Diego existence will be incomplete until you pay this place a visit.
1. The culinary team has serious talent
Executive Chef Daniel Barron (formerly of Blue Point and La Valencia) spent five and a half months developing the broad and extensive menu with an America-meets-Asia flavor scheme. More importantly, he was given total freedom to create his food, his way. Cooking by his side is chef de cuisine Stephen Gage, also formerly of La Valencia.
2. The interior has been beautifully and completely redesigned
The 7,500 sf space has been transformed from a dingy, airless den into a modern, breezy space highlighted with metal, marble, and glass accents. Seating options include the 40-seat bar in the center of the restaurant, a separate oyster bar, cozy booths in the back, an expansive patio, and a smattering of bar-height tables near the windows.
3. Its frozen cocktail game is long and strong
The restaurant’s signature offering is craft cocktails topped with fruity frosted ice. You’ll find 14 pre-designed drinks on the menu — including the Green Leaf Twist and Blush Sangria pictured above — or you can create your own concoction by selecting the spirit of your choice from a list of nearly 70 different options, including every flavored rum and vodka imaginable, then picking lemon-lime, cranberry, or pineapple frozen ice, and a fruit puree. Careful: the drinks may taste candy-sweet, but they’re made with 2oz of alcohol and the effects can sneak up quickly.
4. You’ll want to share, or maybe not
Plan to start off with a few small plates and sides and eat them family style. Early standouts include the lollipop-cut jidori chicken wings with an addictive garlic-sesame glaze, corn on the cob with aioli, Parmesan cheese, eel sauce, and smoked togarashi, and the Asian pear & beet salad. You could easily make a meal out of starters, salads, and sides and go home happy.
5. Carnivores will feel most welcome here
Big, bold, and meaty entrees are a major focus. If you’re craving Asian flavors, the juicy and tender char siu smoked natural pork is a great choice. It’s cut into thin slices that are perfect for sharing. Want something even more substantial? Two of Barron’s picks include the “Umami Bomb” Angus ribeye with truffle bone marrow and a 40oz, 30-day dry-aged T-bone steak big enough to serve four hungry people.
6. So will seafood fans
A dedicated raw bar will satisfy your cravings for cold seafood dishes like oysters on the half shell, yellowfin poke, and sushi rolls. In terms of entrees, you can dig into everything from seared diver scallops to the crispy snapper, pictured above.
7. Your phone battery will never die
Every single seat at the main bar has its own dedicated USB port and power plug.
8. Happy hour is kind of a big deal
The Gaslamp Quarter is known for serious competition when it comes to happy hour. Blush is stepping things up with an “aggressive” HH menu available weekdays from 3-6pm. It’s deep with serious drink deals like $5 build-your-own and signature cocktails, half-priced drafts, and $4 sake. Food offerings are equally wallet-friendly. Options include short rib kalbi sliders, jidori chicken wings, and smoked duck breast bao, all priced between $4 and $6. Fresh-shucked oysters are $1 each (minimum six, which should NOT be a problem if you’re doing it right).
9. There’s a super-potent hot sauce available (for those who dare)
If you can handle a lot of heat, ask for your dish to be modified with Seppuku hot sauce. Named after a form of ritual suicide by disembowelment (pleasant!), the ghost pepper-based sauce is serious stuff. Barron says it’s great on everything from chicken wings to noodle dishes.
10. It doesn’t slack on the sweet stuff
Unless you love green tea iced cream, you’ve probably been disappointed by the dessert offerings at most Asian-fusion places. That won’t happen at Blush, where it’s advised to save room for Barron’s envelope-pushing sweets like this hot banana fritter with red miso ganache, popcorn powder, brown butter cotton candy, and a generous scoop of bacon-caramel ice cream (it’s hiding behind the cotton candy plume). Other options include a yuzu meringue pie with a Ritz Cracker crust, white chocolate shiso mousse, and liquid nitrogen ice cream.
11. Another location is in the works
Co-owner Taylor Kim says the team is looking into opening a second San Diego outpost in Pacific Beach, sometime next year.