Tag Archives: Sushi

Little Lilly Sushi

There are sushi bars and then there are sushi bars. Little Lilly is the later. Lilly’s is running under an old-school philosophy – fish, raw, on a plate speaks for itIMG_1313self. I’m on board with that philosophy. Some newer sushi places have stopped short of adding rhinestone tiaras and sparklers to sushi but they still smother rolls in sickly sweet mayo sauces and misguided presentation as marketing gimmicks to distract from lower quality ingredients.

Lilly’s came as a recommendation from the Marketing Goddess, a good friend and fellow foodie in Dallas. I’m normally on the giving end of restaurant recommendations but Marketing Goddess and I have similar tastes and expectations, so off I went.

Lilly is the owner’s daughter. And the Lilly Roll featured under house specialties is a vegetarian roll created for Lilly since she is allergic to all seafood. If you picked up on the personal touch in those two facts, get ready to feel it up close and in real-time when you take a seat.

Minimalist but well-appointed decor. Small, 6 seats at the bar, 20 seats otherwise. No club music. The patrons seem to be the conservative, well-heeled variety, more concerned with quality than price. Lilly’s seems more the place for conversation, good friends and lingering.

Great. Sushi chef was deeply knowledgeable about the offerings and very good at matching  personal tastes to whats on the menu. I’m not usually a fan of salmon nigiri but he highly recommended the wild New Zealand Salmon, claiming he had not tasted anything quite so fresh and flavourful in a long time. He was right.

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All wins.

Litmus Test: For virgin sushi restaurants I have a litmus test of Yellowtail and Fresh Eel nigiri. If those don’t pass, I won’t order anything else and usually, I won’t return. Both passed with exceptional marks.

Salmon Nigiri: Chef mentioned the wild New Zealand salmon was some of the best he had tried. While I’m usually not a fan of salmon nigiri, I had to agree with him, it was stellar!

Hawaii Roll: Since chef was spot on with the salmon nigiri suggestion I asked him to pick out a IMG_1316roll, something offbeat, something I could not not find elsewhere. He proudly made me a Hawaii roll which is tuna & avocado on the in, escolar on the out, topped with a small amount of light sauce made from lime juice and sriracha. An odd taste combination on paper but the flavours were truly a fantastic experience; lime, like lemon,enhancing the fish, sriracha sneaking in and lingering after the fish flavours dissipated.

Lilly is on the high side, however the quality is likewise high. Here, I believe you are getting what pay for. 3 nigiri (2pcs each), 1 roll – $38.

Lunch: 10 August 2013

Little Lilly Sushi | 6100 Camp Bowie | Fort Worth, TX 76116

AKA Sushi

IMG_1305The replicazzi have made sure there is a sushi joint on every corner of the Houston MSA. Fact is, no matter where you live in Houston, you can probably walk to a sushi place and its probably, at least, decent. But there are strata of sushi restaurants, some  high-end with ultra-modern design and presentation, some are old-school run by actual Japanese families and some are  serving sushi-like objects on boats floating down conveyor belts of water. We don’t eat sushi from conveyor belts, call us snobs.

Our work-lunch-sushi crew has a standing bi-monthly outing to AKA Sushi. The offerings here are good to excellent, its close and it has Tony, our absolute favourite server in all of Houston.

AKA is in a strip near the Whole Foods in Upper Kirby. Outside boring, inside is small, modern with plenty of natural light. The mood is always upbeat zen with the usual 80’s mixed with current modern music played at levels allowing conversation. It’s typically crowded for lunch after 12p but there’s always drop-in space. Comfy padded booths next to the glass front but our group is too big for those. Tables are close-spaced but comfortably so and  there are several tables in nooks for a feeling of separation.

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I’ve tried everything and everything is at least good, most great and some excellent. Highlights for me are –

Agedashi Tofu: It was actually at AKA that I tried this for the first time. Flash fried  tofu cubes in a light soy-mirin-dashi broth topped with green onion. I like the crispy out, silky in texture play. The taste is mostly delivered through the broth which reminds me of the sauce served with tempura.

Spicy Cajun Tiger:  Tony refers to this as my “usual”. And it is my usual 3-roll lunch special order: Spicy Tuna, Cajun and Tiger Eye rolls. These are basic rolls but the ingredients are fresh, the rice has flawless consistency and flavor and the assembly is expert.  Typically at AKA when they say spicy they mean it, so if you have low heat-tolerance, tell them to turn it down or order the non-spicy version.

This is reason we keep coming back even though there are loads of other sushi restaurants closer to work. At AKA, the reason has a name, Tony. He has been putting up with our group shenannigans for years and he is excellent. He remembers all of our previous orders, what we do IMG_1312and don’t like, what we usually have to drink including nuances like one of us takes 3 slices of lime in iced tea; he immediately notices if one of our crew is missing or if we’ve thrown a new person into the mix. You are going to be called either “Honey”, “Dear”, “Sugar”, “Sweetheart” or “Darling”. I’m “Honey”, so you’ll need to request a different name.

The preparation area is small so orders for our group of 6-8 do not always come out together but they will come out in quick succession. Tony will politely harass sushi chef if he notices its taking too long for the table’s order to be complete.

There is no need to ask for water, tea, extra wasabi or pickled ginger – the staff here circle like sharks, usually any low levels are replaced without your knowledge.

We have no idea what the a la carte menu prices are because we continue to order the 2-roll or 3-roll lunch special. $13.95 for 3 rolls, one salad with creamy-ginger or miso-vinagrette and one soup. $9.95 for the 2-roll version.

Until next time, thanks Tony!

Lunch: 8 August 2013

AKA Sushi | 2390 W Alabama St | Houston, TX 77098