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Sushi Jin

The freshest fish in Houston is delivered to this sushi joint in Memorial, courtesy of Air Japan

Next we got grilled Japanese eggplant slices in a bowl of soy miso broth topped with fine, white fluffy stuff that looked like parmesan cheese. The topping turned out to be dried bonito, a strong-flavored member of the mackerel family that is quite overwhelming all by itself. Dried and shaved sparingly over a bland food like eggplant, it tasted fantastic.

Next, the sushi master sent us a whole grilled yellowtail fin garnished simply with a couple of lemon wedges. The ­falling-apart, tender bits of meat had to be coaxed out of the nooks and ­crevices of the fin bones with chopsticks, but it tasted sensational with a barest bit of lemon juice squeezed over the top.

"That's my favorite," the sushi man smiled. I suspected that he had given us the piece of the hamachi that he usually reserves for himself.

The hamachi sashimi is the best in Houston.
Troy Fields
The hamachi sashimi is the best in Houston.

Location Info

Map

Sushi Jin

14670 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Memorial

Details

Hours:11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Hamachi sashimi

(4 pieces): $9

Chirashi sushi (9 pieces): $19

Salmon sashimi

(4 pieces): $9

Scallop sushi (2 pieces): $6

Tuna sushi (2 pieces): $4.20

14670 Memorial Dr., 281-493-2932

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But by now, we were beginning to wonder why the hell he wasn't making us any sushi. Bebout asked him about various pieces of fish, and he finally agreed to give us some sushi. We sampled some spectacular silky-smooth scallops, some tough and flavorless flounder, some droopy salmon and some awful, watery Alaskan king crab.

For the first time at Sushi Jin, I was disappointed by the raw fish. Suddenly Anthony Bourdain's famous warning from Kitchen Confidential popped into my mind. "I never order fish on Monday," Bourdain wrote. "The fish markets are closed on Saturday and Sunday. Your fish purveyor might deliver on Saturday, but it's stuff they got in on Friday."

I'm not sure when Nakanishi's seafood importing company is open and when their flights come in from Japan, but I suspect they are on the same schedule Bourdain wrote about. Well, it can't stay fresh forever, I guess.

Thank goodness Nakanishi told us to order from the sushi chef. By preparing grilled, dried and seared fish, the itamae managed to serve us a spectacular meal despite the fact that he didn't have much to work with.

Sushi Jin is currently my top choice for classical Japanese sushi in Houston. But I think I'll visit on Tuesdays through Saturdays from now on.

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