For as long as most folks can remember, there’s been a sushi restaurant in the 6100 block of Camp Bowie Boulevard. Danny Liu worked as a sushi chef at Hui Chuan for years before decamping to Sushi Yoko right up the street. When Hui Chuan’s owners decided to close up shop in 2012, Liu and his family took over the property, reopening as Little Lilly late last year.
For his chef, Liu hired Jesus Garcia, with whom Liu had worked at Sushi Yoko. Not even 30 yet, Garcia has worked at some excellent sushi restaurants in the Fort (Shinjuku Station, Piranha Killer Sushi). With him holding court behind the sushi bar at Little Lilly, a patron might find herself trying something out of the ordinary because the chef makes it sound so good.
That was the case with the okonomiyaki appetizer. Loosely translated, it means “whatever you want, grilled.” In this case, it was a pancake topped with savory shrimp, cabbage, pork belly, and smoky bonito flakes. The pork’s mushy texture was a little overwhelming, but the smoky bonito worked well with the shrimp and grilled cabbage. And then there was the sea urchin sashimi –– Garcia overheard my table of three discussing salmon roe versus the more classic tobiko and offered up a salmon roe-topped sea urchin delicately wrapped in nori. The salty, oozy, briny goodness of the salmon eggs and velvety, pudding-like texture of the sea urchin tasted weirdly good together.