Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: MF Sushi in the Galleria Area (13 for 2013)

As promised in my January Odds and Ends posting, there are 13 Restaurants in the Houston area that I have made it my determination to try by the end of June, 2013.  These are a mixed bag of Asian Fusion, Sushi, Farm to Table, Experimental, BBQ and other kinds of food.  Many of these places have been visited by my colleagues at Urban Swan, Eater Houston and HTown Chowdown.  Somehow I missed out on them and am putting efforts to correcting this oversight.  MF Sushi in the Galleria Area is one such place that I'd heard many good things about and having been to his 3 story location in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, Georgia back when I had to do Actuarial Training at GSU, I was curious to see how Chris Kinjo's restart in the Houston area was going.

Per Allison Cook's Review:
View from my Table; Chris Kinjo working with Sushi Bar Staff
MF SUSHI Sushi master Chris Kinjo eased into town with no fanfare, hoping to start over again after financial reversals cost him his well-regarded Atlanta mini-empire. Sit at his sleek new Galleria-area sushi bar for a chef’s-choice omakase tasting and you’ll be glad he chose to re-make his fortune here. His style tends to the classic, and his sushi rice alone is near-miraculous: ever so lightly pinched and fluffed instead of pressed, so that each sticky grain barely touches the next. 
Chris Kinjo sounds like a very methodical and deliberate Chef who cares very much about the presentation and flavour of his cuisine.  His story is very much something fellow restaurateur Gary Adair has said about the Houston Restaurant market:  Houston is a good place to start up, to start over and it is forgiving of failures and gives you a chance to try again.  Remembering various types of Makimono and Sashimi from the visit there back in the later mid 2000s, I feel this is definitely worth investigating further.

Akitabare Koshiki Junzukuri Jumai Sake
One little personal rule I follow if I'm trying to get dinner in the Houston area on what can be busy nights (Wednesday through Saturday) is if I do not have a reservation, I get to my destination BEFORE 6:30 PM.  Usually this gets me worked in/seated/eating before the deluge of customers comes in and typically you get good service prior to the dinner rush.  I followed this rule when I visited MF Sushi and it worked out well for me.

I was very promptly greeted and seated in this low key yet elegant Sushi Bistro.  The servers suggested several different Sakes, I went with Junmai Sake Akitabare Koshiki Junzukuri (Northern Skies) is a pleasingly dry, well-crafted sake much appreciated by connoisseurs. It has just enough body to support the spare lines of its structure, making it the kind of sake one can drink enjoyably for hours at a stretch. Its subdued, understated refinement evokes a sense of the northern province where it is meticulously brewed. I found that it had a bit of a Melon Essence, was slightly dry and was delicious served chilled.  Nice job, MF Sushi!

House Ginger Salad
Spicy Salmon appetizer with yushukosho ponzu sauce
Ara was my server, and she engaged me in some conversation about the original location in Buckhead.  I found out from her that she and the whole crew packed up and caravaned from Atlanta to Houston to start over with Kinjo-san.  This was an interesting surprise--Chris Kinjo inspires some good loyalty in his workers, which is the mark of a good restaurateur, to be sure.  Ara also told me that they could make fresh wasabi at your table for $8.00 more and that they are the only place in Houston that has the fresh wasabi service.  I was tempted to opt for this, but declined as I was more interested in trying a selection of different dishes.  Ara recommended I start off with their House Ginger salad, which includes some snow crab bits and fish that reminded me of some kind of Tuna Ceviche.  It had a nice mix of sour, ginger, and fish essence with very crisp mixed greens.  A great way to start off the meal.

I next selected a spicy salmon appetizer with yuzukosho ponzu sauce.  This was a very nice dish--well marbled cuts of salmon, in an umami and sweet hot sauce, with greens, a radish slice and other crunchy accouterments.  It was magnificent, and though I wished I had a larger portion, I know that with sushi and sashimi  the objective is to enjoy several small plates of different tastes rather than a large plate of a few.  Moving on!!!
Tekka Maki Roll

Ara also recommended I try the Tekka Maki tuna roll.  This is a traditional seaweed wrap tuna roll.  Served with wasabi, pickled white ginger and brewed soy sauce.  You're served 6 pieces traditionally plated.  The fish was cool, fresh and delicious.  This is a nice traditional Makimono and again, another good call from Ara.

Hokkaido Scallops
 I also studied the menu a bit and selected Hokkaido scallops.  I'm fond of shellfish in general, and when scallops are cooked or set up as sushi correctly, they are meaty and just fabulous.  These could be served chopped or whole.  I elected for whole.  It was served well plated, but also was served with some of the tendon/muscle from the bivalve on one of the shells in a brown broth.  The scallops themselves were simply fabulous, and those extra muscles in the broth had a calamari-like texture in a sweet/savoury broth that I enjoyed tremendously.  I was surprised when Ara said not everyone cares for the extra muscle/tendon from the scallop.  Given how it was prepared in that broth, I'd say that whomever doesn't prefer it must not have tried it.
Dark Meat Yakitori 
Scallop tendon/muscle

At this point I was starting to feel like I'd had a sufficiency, but did try a dark meat yakitori chicken from the Robata just to see how it was.  Just like everything else I'd had, it was well prepared and seasoned, served properly and promptly and was the final dish I had in this wonderful meal.  Excellent job, Chris Kinjo and MF Sushi.  I loved the meal, the service was great and your restaurant may be low key, but it has a great atmosphere.

Report Card for MF Sushi:
Food and Beverage:
The Bar at MF Sushi
     Akitabare Koshiki Junzukuri Sake: A+
     House Ginger Salad: A
     Spicy Salmon Appetizer: A+
     Tekka Maki: A
     Hokkaido Scallops: A+
     Dark Meat Yakitori: A
     Speed: A+
     Friendliness: A+
     Dining Area/Sushi Bar/Bar: A+
     Men's Room: Incomplete
Atmosphere: Modern, Elegant, Sushi with Earth Tones, Open Spaces: A

Overall Grade: A    

MF Sushi Houston is located at:
5887 Westehimer Rd. Suite K
(At Fountainview, Southwest Corner,
in small strip centre in front of Wings N Things)
Houston, TX  77057

Mon-Fri: 11:30 AM -2 PM
Mon-Thurs: 5:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Fri-Sat: 5:30 PM - 11:30 PM
Sun. Closed

And Remember to Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

MF Sushi on Urbanspoon

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