By Keridwen Cornelius | Photo by Gary Ladd
If you find yourself in Page with a hankering for steak served on a red-checkered tablecloth, you don’t need our help. This meat-and-potatoes town is your oyster. If, however, you find yourself in northernmost Arizona yearning for yellowtail sashimi, we’ll let you in on a little secret: Blue Buddha Sushi Lounge.
Expect the unexpected at Blue Buddha. Open the door of this unassuming strip mall restaurant and you’ll think that a warp in the space-time continuum has transported you to a club in Manhattan. Groovy music gently pulses through a Zen-like space that’s jazzed up with a glittering bar and funky light fixtures.
Yet the aesthetics actually work for Page: the turquoise walls and cushy orange chairs evoke neighboring Lake Powell’s color palette of sky, water and russet sandstone. The bubbly shadows on the walls and river-rock bar echo the aquatic motif. And in the do-it-yourself spirit of the town, everything was built by the owner and his employees.
“We wanted to bring something different to the town,” says owner/operator Twist Thompson. “We knew there was a population looking for more culture, so we went out on a limb.”
Thompson attended the Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles and trained his three sushi chefs in authentic Japanese sushi-making. You’ll find the usual favorites here: fresh and delicious sushi and sashimi, miso soup and a selection of sakes. And those who balk at raw can dip their chopsticks into one of several noodle bowls studded with (cooked) chicken, beef or shrimp.
Yet Blue Buddha doesn’t attempt to imitate the mom-and-pop sushi joints of Tokyo. For example, if you’re feeling daring, you could peruse the bamboo-constructed menu while sipping a Zen Snow Conetini (a Blue Curaçao snowball floating in citrus vodka and green tea), whet your appetite with spicy tuna jalapeño poppers, continue with a Castle Rock or Lake Rider sushi roll, and cap it all off with shockingly good tempura Oreos smothered in vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.
You read it right: tempura Oreos. Sounds like a freak of nature, but it will change your life. Or at least your expectations of a sushi restaurant in Page.