Where: Osaka, 515 Westheimer (near Montrose), 713-533-9098
What $7 gets you: Three to four pieces of slick-slippery nigiri, plus a tasty tidbit from the chef. No joke - every time we've been here, we've enjoyed a complimentary appetizer, from creative rolls and punchy dumplings to golden tempura and steamy baked mussels.
Recommended: Sure, if you're one of those people that likes fresh fish and free stuff. Sushi has never been easy on the wallet, but Osaka offers alluring fish in large portions at reasonable prices. The menu at this diminutive Japanese joint isn't mind blowing, but it is consistently refreshing. Delicious salmon, shrimp, eel, and tuna offered in creative combinations, all at reasonable prices. Nigiri will set you back $3 and $4 for a pair -- but each piece is massive, and the fish is bang-up quality. Sure, you'll find the usual standbys on the sushi list, plus they have a bunch of more adventurous rolls that play with textures and flavors. Try one of the outstanding bento boxes for a quick lunchtime fix, or slurp up the soups, which are fantastically (and deliciously) simple as well.
Nothing about Osaka is pretentious or loud. In fact, beyond the food, the Zen-laden atmosphere is one-upped only by the amiable servers, who can make suggestions and customize an order to have you craving toro in no time.
Bonus points: After your meal, you'll also get a complimentary pocket-sized scoop of ice cream - vanilla, mango, or green tea. A sweet ending to a pleasantly refreshing night, satisfaction guaranteed.