The Place: Oishii Japanese Sushi Bar 3764 Richmond 713-621-8628 http://www.oishiihouston.com/
The Hours: 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 3 to 6 p.m. Saturdays
The Deals: $1.25 domestics, $1.75 Japanese imports, $3 large hot sake, $4 house wine, 2 for $4 appetizers
The Scene:Will Smith almost tainted my first unattached Valentine's Day in years. My friend Mike - also single - and I sat down at the bar at Oishii when Smith was marrying a stripper, even though it might mean he'd never become an astronaut. Even Jeff Goldblum was getting some affection. This was the last part of Independence Day we wanted to see on this particular day, so we ordered some sake and pork dumplings and ignored the flat-screen TVs mounted between us and the chefs.
Oishii is cheap, unassuming and popular. The service can be harried during peak hours, but is friendly enough. It's not the finest Japanese food around, but during happy hour it's just as good as more expensive options. On that most retarded of holidays, it was packed with the same type of folks who usually show up.
There were families, groups of young friends, a few couples who've either gotten over Valentine's Day or never gave a shit in the first place (points for you, guy and girl having a good time drinking Kirin in workout clothes), and a small selection of Forever Aloners who, like us, were replacing love with things like raw fish and alcohol.
After the first rounds of sake we turned our attention back to the movie at the point when drunken Randy Quaid flies a fighter plane into an alien ship, saving the world and giving himself the opportunity to use two catchphrases (i.e., "Up yours," and "I'm back"). The plane penetrating the weird blue glow-hole of the spacecraft was definitely sexual, but at least it wasn't romantic.
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A couple more plates and another round of cheap sake later and we were done, for less than $25 total and in time for the end of the film.
"Now that Independence Day is over, it just feels like crappy old Valentine's Day again," Mike said. "Time to go."
Oishii had provided us with a solid food foundation and a head start on drinking. We left to meet some friends at the bar, where Mike would attempt to Randy Quaid various spaceships. Good thing Earth wasn't depending on this mission or we'd all be dead by now.