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The Everything Smoked Salmon Nigiri at Blue Sushi Saki Grill: smoked salmon atop cream-cheese-stuffed rice tempura, covered with seasoning, scallion and ponzu sauce.


By Wini Moranville

Blue Sushi Saki Grill is set to open this Thursday on Court Avenue in the space formerly occupied by Goldfinch (and, before that, Dos Rios). It’s the newest link in a somewhat-regional chain with 14 outposts in locales spanning from Kentucky to Colorado.

Des Moines diners could fairly wonder if we truly need another sushi restaurant; however, from what I’ve gathered through press releases, a little online sleuthing and by speaking to their media contact, Liz Adelman, Blue could be to other sushi restaurants what Centro is to other Italian restaurants: With a pizzazzy atmosphere plus nearly 200 seats indoors and 103 seats on the patio, the new venue has the potential to be the next high-energy downtown hot spot.

The modern-urban decor includes a ceiling installation of cut scallop shells stained in blues and greens, with pops of coral color. Jazzing up the lounge is a street-art mural of mixed Japanese design elements.

The voluminous menu opens to plenty of raw and not-raw maki, sashimi and nigiri options, as well as small, medium and large plates. Two items I’m planning to try on my inaugural visit are the Beach Maki (featuring seared albacore, spicy big-eye tuna, spicy crab mix, burdock root, avocado, cilantro, serrano and ponzu) and a medium plate of River Rock Beef (beef tenderloin served on sizzling rocks, with jalapeño, ponzu and yuzu kosho). Happily, sushi traditionalists will be pleased by the more classic side of the menu; there’s also a separate menu for gluten-free diners as well as plenty of vegan options.

The drinks menu is anchored by 15 premium saki choices and also includes craft cocktails, beer, plenty of wines by the glass, and – refreshingly – some thoughtfully purveyed teas as well as three stylish nonalcoholic sips that travel well beyond Perrier with lime.

I should also note that the company is committed to environmentally responsible sourcing of their seafood. A page on their website pinpoints where their fish and seafood are caught or raised, with pop-up boxes that reveal various environmental and sourcing concerns in a given area.

Blue Sushi Sake Grill is at 315 Court Ave.; follow them on Facebook at BlueSushiSakeGrillDesMoines.

The radiator grills, headlights and other details changed between these Packards of the 1920s and ‘30s, but the distinctive swan hood ornament spanned decades. Photo: Brent Isenberger.


The Des Moines Concours d’Elegance, a showcase of gleaming classic cars, returns Sunday, Sept. 8. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., more than 150 elegant automobiles will encircle the downtown sculpture park. The lustrous exhibit is free, produced by participating car clubs, and includes activities for children plus a midway of food, merchandise and service vendors. For more information, visit

From a plane's window seat, photographer King Au used his smartphone to capture scenes, such as this landscape of fields near Garden City, Kansas.


After 27 years of marriage, artists King and Ann Au are working on their first collaboration for an upcoming exhibit, "6 Miles Up+Down to Earth," which will open Friday, Sept. 6, at 2AU Ltd. in West Des Moines' Valley Junction.

He is an accomplished photographer with business that regularly takes him out of Iowa, including frequent trips to San Francisco. She is the founder of 2AU, a custom jewelry and craft art gallery in Valley Junction. 

"6 Miles Up+Down to Earth" showcases a newly discovered connection between these very different artists. One captures grand photographic vistas from the perspective of airplanes. The other crafts jewelry inspired by those images, expressing their beauty in rings, brooches, pendants and more. Read more >>

The latest addition to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park: the pop art "LOVE" sculpture by Robert Indiana. Photo: Ben Easter.


All of us at dsm have been big fans of the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park since it opened in 2009. With 31 sculptures by 25 internationally acclaimed artists—such as Willem de Kooning, Richard Serra, Keith Haring, Yayoi Jusama and Louise Bourgeois—the park has been a key part of downtown’s dynamic transformation. So we’re looking forward to celebrating the 10-year milestone at the Des Moines Art Center’s anniversary party Sept. 7 at the park.

An exhibit called "Sculpting Our Community" will highlight the free public event. For the display, the Art Center invited the public to create and submit their own artwork inspired by the park’s sculptures. The celebration, from 4 to 7 p.m., also will include guided tours, music by Faculty Lounge and a kid zone, plus food trucks and drinks.

Maggie Schmitt, Zachary Smith and Courtney Kayser in "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder." Photo: Steve Gibbons.


The Des Moines Community Playhouse presents the Tony Award-winning musical comedy "A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder," Sept. 6-29. Set in London in 1907, the tale follows a penniless clerk in his quest to inherit an earldom by eliminating other heirs. 

The Playhouse cast includes Sarah Florian, Austin Garner, Gina Gedler, Courtney Kayser, Ann Kramer, Derek Phelps, Hunter Quint, Sophie Rounds, Maggie Schmitt, Zachary Smith and Brett Spahr. The play is directed by John W. Viars with music direction by Brenton Brown and choreography by Alison Shafer.

Tickets starting at $29 may be purchased online at, by phone at 515-277-6261, or at the Playhouse ticket office.

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