Miracles of Loaves and (Raw) Fishes
I didn’t realize there was anyone left on the planet who won’t eat sushi. As it turns out, these misguided people are everywhere: my mother, my editor, my stepsister, just to name a few. There I was thinking sushi was like Facebook — that you can only resist it for so long. I recently set out to convert a few of the non-believers and made some discoveries of my own.
The first person I tried to bring over to the raw side was a friend who once told me he thought sushi chefs were just too lazy to cook anything. Though he had all of the enthusiasm of a kid going to the dentist, he agreed to meet me at MK’s Sushi (2108 W. 7th St.).
It was a Sunday night, and the place looked like a bomb had hit it. Apparently, we had just missed a huge rush of party animals who left moments before we arrived. The staff was looking at the messy dining room as one would at a house after a tornado has wiped out everything but the bathtub.
It might have been a bad idea to start the meal with some non-sushi soft shell crabs ($8.25), battered and fried, served with a soy-based dipping sauce. It wasn’t that they weren’t tasty, but the little critters look like giant fried spiders to someone who has never seen them before. After that, we shared the “Love Boat” ($65.95), 10 pieces of nigiri sushi (sliced raw fish with a molded ball of rice), plus 10 pieces of sashimi and two special rolls.
Overall, the fish was fresh, though the tuna and halibut seemed a little rubbery. My pal didn’t like the raw stuff but took a liking to the spicy crunch roll, with a tangy mayo, sweet wasabi sauce, fried shrimp, avocado, cucumber, crab, and bits of tuna on top. I think eating a roll with cooked fish is kind of cheating. But sushi is a big-tent religion, so I’ll count that as a win.
I next preached the gospel to a couple of friends who met me at Sushi Tao (4954 Overton Ridge Blvd.) near Hulen Mall. The thing that really stood out about the strip-mall eatery was our charming, giggling server. The fact the she had only a loose grasp of the language made her all the more adorable.
We started with the colorful Dragon Roll ($9.95), stuffed with a sweet eel and cucumber and artfully topped with avocado and tobiko (multi- colored roe). It was like sushi with training wheels. I didn’t tell them those tiny colorful things on top were fish eggs. The Super Dragon Roll ($10.95), by comparison, looked as though it had been torn from the ranks of a Chinese New Year parade. Made to look like a little dragon, the elaborate concoction included tempura shrimp, cream cheese, and avocado. It was a tad sweet, but cloyingly rich thanks to the enormous portion of cream cheese crammed into the thing.
My pals loved it, so I guess … mission accomplished. I preferred the Cowboy Roll ($10.95), topped with raw spicy tuna and a jalapeño and loaded with scallions, more tuna, and avocado. My friends were not as crazy about that one.
I was three for three in my quest to convert sushi non-believers. For anyone who is similarly preaching the gospel of sashimi, it’s best to start out slow, with cooked rolls. Let the newbies work their way up to the more exotic stuff before you send them off to hand out tracts door to door.
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