Auditioning a New Friend at Oishii's Happy Hour
The check came to $15 bucks each and we were chock full of sushi. Yes.
Photos by Christina Uticone
So my husband does this thing where, once he finds a restaurant or two to fill a niche (sushi, Italian, burgers, etc.) he stops wanting to try new places in that niche. This makes me crazy, especially because as soon as I get back from trying a new place (where he refused to go in the first place) he ends up pouting that I didn't take him with me.
Hey, surprise! It happened again! This time with sushi, and the restaurant in question is Oishii. This little sushi "diner" is always popping up on "Best of" lists--including here at HP--and it always catches my eye when I drive by. It's not on Josh's "sushi radar," though, so we never go.
I was recently shopping at Kiehl's, and got chatting with my favorite sales associate Justin about food. When we landed on the topic of Oishii's happy hour, Justin told me it was a favorite of his. "It's awesome--and cheap!" he exclaimed, and I immediately asked him out on a platonic date. The goal: make a new friend. (And, ultimately, force my husband's hand to get him to try a new sushi place.)
When you are auditioning a new friend, you have to pick the right restaurant. It has to be at a comfortable price point for both parties, it needs to quiet enough that you can hear one another, and loud enough that everyone else can't hear you while you ask all the awkward, weird getting-to-know-you questions. It also helps if you both like the food, especially when it comes to sushi. I met up with fellow sushi lover Justin at happy hour to see what else we have in common besides a borderline-obsessive love of skincare.
It turns out, a lot. We talked about our families, our significant others, our high school and college years, and (of course) our skincare routines over dollar nigiri sushi and half-price appetizers, plus cocktails ($1.25 for my beer, $4 for a glass of house wine). We ordered plate after plate--Agedashi tofu and spicy salmon rolls ($4 each, buy one-get one at happy hour), and various nigiri sushi options--as we sipped our drinks and chatted. The service was perfect--attentive enough to keep the food and drink coming, but scarce enough that we could finish our sentences and actually learn about one another. At 4:30 p.m. there was already a crowd that ranged from families with kids to college-age kids to business men and women who had knocked off early to get a jump on happy hour.
I was excited at the quality of sushi, and everything we tried was fresh and delicious. I mean--dollar sushi can go very wrong, you know? But one after another--tuna, albacore, squid--we found the fish to be not only fresh tasting, but presented very nicely. I especially liked the atmosphere at Oishii; it was fun and casual, and it set just the right tone for a first friend date.
As for my secondary goal--to get the husband intrigued enough to try it with me--I got as far as the post-meal pout, which I hope to leverage into a husband/wife date night in the near future. In the meantime I've made a new friend and found a great spot to grab fast, fresh sushi on the cheap. Happy hour prices are killer, but even the regular menu is well-priced--I'm sold.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.