It was nice to see the family and all, but Chow, Baby’s weekend home in New Orleans was a bust, foodwise. The best po-boy place in town (make a note: Crabby Jack’s on Jefferson Highway) was closed for summer vacation; see, somebody has the sense to stay out of the Big Steamy in August.
Not too far away, a popular sushi place (make a different kind of note: Ninja on Oak Street) was open for business, but on our visit the gyoza were burnt, the rolls were OK but not wowza inventive, and the service was prone to lengthy disappearances. Usually when a wanderlusting Chow, Baby returns to the Best of the Metroplex, it heads first for Tex-Mex or barbecue. This time, the mad gotta-have-it dash was to Sushi Zone (915 E. Road to Six Flags, Arlington).
From first to last, every dish at Sushi Zone is wowza. First, crispy-just-on-the-edges gyoza ($4.95), the delicate Japanese dumplings that are like potstickers on a health kick. Also first, a baked avocado ($7.95) smothered with scallops and crawfish in a lush, creamy-tangy, mayo-based sauce: deeelightful. Last, at the recommendation of attentive and witty server Bea, a big bowl of shimmering mango ice cream with tempura-fried bananas ($4.50) – the perfect light ‘n’ fresh ending, because Chow, Baby, fooled once again by Sushi Zone’s low prices, had ordered way too many of Chef Koji’s fantastical rolls. Couldn’t pass up the oyster po-boy roll ($6.50), of course, with panko-crusted fried oysters wrapped with cucumber and avocado inside soybean paper, drizzled with tonkatsu sauce (sort of a mustard-spiked Worcestershire). And the tumbleweed waltz ($8.75), so cute with its tangle of fried sprouts (that’s the tumbleweeds) garnishing the tempura-fried roll of flounder, dried apricot, and cream cheese.
Not on the menu, but usually available on request: the weird but definitely wowza Michelangelo in Love Roll ($10.95), raw tuna, asparagus, and bell pepper wrapped in prosciutto and topped with cilantro pesto. There were a couple (several) more, too, but you get the idea: creative, delicious, inexpensive. And Bea was always there when needed. Next time Chow, Baby’s sister wants to go for sushi, Chow, Baby is picking the place.
With raw fish out of the way, Chow, Baby could turn to its next greatest need: Texas barbecue. Two days is just too long to go without yummy ribs and potato salad, and Chow, Baby found both at newly opened Old School Barbecue (5500 Brentwood Stair Rd.). Amiable Chef Lonnie, who had a similar joint in Mansfield, is well aware that he has set up shop in a Cursed Address (five restaurants, some of them good, in the last five years) and is busting his behind to bring good ‘cue and all-housemade sides to Fort Worth’s Eastsiders. This Eastsider particularly liked the mild crispy-skinned sausage; Lonnie’s thickly sliced brisket is the juicy-roast kind, whereas Chow, Baby personally prefers fall-apart, but nobody could quibble with the good smoky flavor (combo plate $9.95). Ribs ($10.95/lb. with one large side) were fantastic, with almost-burnt sauce-glazed edges shielding perfectly cooked meat.
Funny. Here, Old School joins dozens of decent spots, but in New Orleans it would be the best barbecue in town. Just goes to show: Going home is nice, but coming home is even better.
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