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An MF Perfect Nigiri: Trust the Chef at MF Sushi

Sushi Chef Chris Kinjo offers exotic fish, delicious sashimi and some of the best nigiri sushi in town.

I've had as few as six and as many as nine different nigiri courses in one omakase ­sitting at MF Sushi. Even so, I have yet to try Kinjo's famed triggerfish, in which he sautés the fish liver to create a special sauce. His specialty fish come and go, requiring frequent visits to catch all the different items that may be available for only a day or two before they sell out.

I was lucky to be there for a three-part live-lobster course during my most recent dinner visit. It started with caviar foam-topped braised sea urchin over freshly poached lobster, which was followed by an uni-and-lobster chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard), finishing off with a positively divine lobster miso soup with an essence so rich it reminded me of bouillabaisse or lobster bisque.

He'll go until you tell him to stop, continuing for 12 to 20 courses, or more, if you're so inclined. Whatever the case, each omakase dinner will be of a kind that you won't likely forget.
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Sushi chef Chris Kinjo expertly breaks down a slab of o-toro (fatty tuna).
Troy Fields
Sushi chef Chris Kinjo expertly breaks down a slab of o-toro (fatty tuna).
Simple yet perfect: Madai (sea bream) nigiri sushi dusted with fresh Himalayan sea salt.
Troy Fields
Simple yet perfect: Madai (sea bream) nigiri sushi dusted with fresh Himalayan sea salt.

Details

MF Sushi

5887 Westheimer, Suite K, 832-530-4321, Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Fridays; 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturdays; closed Sundays.

$5
Shima aji with yuzu kosho sashimi appetizer $16 Ocean trout sashimi (4 pcs) $9
Chu toro sashimi (4 pcs) $14.50
Hamachi nigiri (2 pcs) $6
Akamutsu nigiri (2 pcs) $12.50
O-toro nigiri (2 pcs) $15
Lunch special grilled eel $12.50
Sapporo Light draft $4.75
Nigori sake (300 ml small) $15



View More:

SLIDESHOW: A Closer Look At MF Sushi
BLOG: Sushi Rice and the Omakase at MF Sushi



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If you don't have the time or the funds or you can't get a reservation for his omakase dinner, MF Sushi is still better, quality-wise, than your average sushi restaurant around town — as long as Kinjo is in the house. On Tuesdays and Fridays, Kinjo gets his shipments of exotic fish from Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market, with supplies of bluefin tuna, live uni, live scallop and others arriving on other days.

It's when Kinjo's not around that things begin to falter. During a lunch date with a girlfriend one Thursday afternoon, when both Kinjo brothers were noticeably absent, our à la carte order of hamachi belly and kanpachi nigiri bore little resemblance to Kinjo's masterful renditions.

The fish was cut decidedly smaller, the rice cold and packed tight into tasteless balls — I ate the fish and pushed the rice aside. An order of bluefin o-toro sashimi fared better in terms of taste but lost points for lack of uniform shape and placement on the plate, where the pieces lay droopily against each other, looking messy and unkempt.

A grilled eel special from the robatayaki grill made a better impression. We were extremely happy with the three large, 4-inch chunks of piping hot, slightly charred eel with freshly sliced cucumber and fresh avocado, served with miso soup and a generously portioned green salad with ginger dressing. I would go back for that one alone.

On the whole, the restaurant is new enough that I expect these little kinks to eventually iron themselves out. In the meantime, Houston should be thankful that the sushi darlings of Atlanta's affluent Buckhead scene chose Houston for their new venture. When Kinjo presided over omakase dinners at his flagship MF Buckhead in Atlanta around 2009, patrons were paying $250 to $350 each to experience his elaborate 16- to 20-course meals.

At the time, Kinjo was busy running three restaurants and offered his dinners only once or twice a month. Here in Houston, Kinjo takes center stage daily, wielding his $1,000 forged Japanese knife with the same expert precision.

It's not only thrilling to watch, but a culinary ride worth every penny of its $75-and-up price tag.

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6 comments
brentjatko121863
brentjatko121863

Wow! Great review and it's not in the Heights. Going soon! Thanks for the great tip.

jenmartino427
jenmartino427

I'll def check this place out but so far nobody can top Sushi Miyagi. The wait is absolutely worth the Shaggy Dog.

CarlRosa
CarlRosa

Outstanding article, Mai.  You captured what Chef Kinjo truly enjoys - omakase.  I believe that he uses Tamaki Gold as his sushi rice and I'm interested to know about this portion/ratio.  I'd also love to know about the tamagoyaki/dashimaki.  When he's working with you (one on one), his yanagiba (knife) appears to be a natural extension of his hand. As always, I envy your writing.  Well done, Mai.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@jenmartino427 Do you eat the nigiri or the sashimi at Sushi Miyagi? Just curious. Will be interested to hear about your experience at MF!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@CarlRosa Carl, what very kind words. I will see what additional information I can get from Kinjo-san about his sushi rice and tamago. You are definitely one of our city's strongest proponents of sushi, so your opinion means a lot! Thanks! 

 
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