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The appeal at Oishii is well-made sushi at ludicrously low prices. We sat down in a creaky booth and ordered the blackboard special known as "B," a $25.95 feast for two. First there were two bowls of hearty miso soup, and then there was a platter of sushi and rolls. These included two pieces of buttery salmon sushi; two pieces of bright, fresh tuna sushi; two pieces of spicy pepper tuna sushi; two pieces of super-fatty escolar sushi; two pieces of melt-in-your-mouth yellowtail sushi; a luscious skydiver roll with tempura softshell crab topped with eel, avocado and mayo; and a Stella roll stuffed with crunchy tempura shrimp and topped with lots of imitation crab salad. Not a bad feed for $13 apiece.

Soma and Oishii are both very popular restaurants, but they represent two opposite poles of the sushi spectrum. At funky Oishii, most regular sushi is a dollar apiece, with rolls starting around $5. During happy hours on weekdays from three to seven and on Saturdays and Sundays from four to six, domestic beer is $1.25, imported is $1.75, hot sake is $3 and most appetizers are buy one, get one free. At trendy Soma, regular sushi starts at around $2.50, rolls start at $11 and for happy hour from four to seven on weeknights, there's a 10 percent discount — but only if you stand at the bar.

So which place do you like better? I asked my sushi-obsessed tablemate. He looked perplexed and said he needed to think about it a minute. It's not really a fair question, of course. Comparing the sushi at Soma with the sushi at Oishii is like comparing the hamburger at the bar at Cafe Annie with the hamburger at Lankford Grocery. They are both great, but you go to these places for entirely different reasons.

The "toro crunch" roll at Soma is packed with tuna flavors.
Robb Walsh
The "toro crunch" roll at Soma is packed with tuna flavors.

Location Info

Map

Soma Sushi

4820 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77007

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Heights

Details

Oishii Sushi

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays;

4 to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Most sushi per piece: $1

Most rolls: $4

Sushi meal for 2: $25.95

Sushi meal for 1: $16.95

Happy hour domestic beer: $1.25

Soma

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Miso broth: $5

Seaweed salad: $6

Crazy Irishman: $11

Toro crunch: $17

Bento box lunch special: $13

Soma 4820 Washington Ave., 713-861-2726
Oishii Sushi 3764 Richmond, 713-621-8628

"When I want to go out socializing at happy hour, I'd rather go to Soma," my lunchmate finally concluded. "But for lunch, or when I'm just plain hungry for sushi, I'd rather go to Oishii."

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