Following in the footsteps of his father and brother—40- and 20-year veterans of the restaurant business, respectively—James Mou took his first kitchen job at age 13. After mastering the craft of sushi over more than a decade, James opened his first restaurant in California at 24. These days, his exquisitely assembled specialty rolls and signature dishes dazzle palates alongside classic Japanese cuisine at Rock & Roll Sushi.
As diners cozy into booths or unwind in the lounge area, James and his culinary team whip up favorites such as vegetable tempura and chicken katsu with a curry sauce. Guests at the sushi bar can watch chefs work with everything from the smoked salmon, avocado, and cream cheese of the Philadelphia roll to the white-fish-topped crabmeat of the Rangers Roll—an homage to what the fish rangers wore on their heads before they could afford hats. To wash down each bite, James stocks his bar with domestic and imported wine and beer, Japanese sakes, and fixings for more than 10 cocktails.
Even though Ku Sushi & Japanese Cuisine’s sushi chefs put all of their techniques on display while working at an exposed sushi bar, diners don’t dare to attempt recreating the rolls at home. The inventions feature complex combinations of seafood, veggies, and special sauces, and many hit the deep fryer before being ushered out to tables. Among the menu’s many unusual sushi creations is the Cowboy roll in which marinated steak, avocado, and cucumber unify beneath a drizzle of sweet sauce applied with a saturated lasso. Behind the steam wafting from blistering grills, chefs also prepare hot entrees, including tender, barbecued short ribs and garlicky filet mignon with ginger sauce. Pours of imported Sapporo and Kirin Ichiban help to wash down the bitter pill of below-average chopstick skills.
Patrons at Fuji Steak House & Sushi Bar pull up blond-wood chairs to tableside hibachi grills where trained chefs chop, flip, and sizzle ingredients into display-worthy dishes from the menu. A house salad and shrimp appetizer warms up each diner’s taste buds before chefs practice spatula-juggling circus acts on a choice of entree ingredients, such as chicken, filet mignon, scallops, or vegetables. Pairs or quartets of mouths also munch sides of hibachi vegetables and steamed rice, taking back midriff space from the stomach’s inconsiderate roommate, the liver.
Every corner of the city needs its own friendly neighborhood sushi joint, and Sushi House enjoys a loyal following of Park Cities locals who agree. The cozy space is populated with bamboo accents and small wooden tables, while patrons who want to get up close and personal with their fish can belly up to the long sushi bar and watch the talented sushi chefs at work. All the expected fare is here, from miso soup and vegetable tempura to super-fresh sashimi and a wide assortment of rolls. Sushi House sticks mostly to the classics, but you will find Philadelphia and spider rolls. Hot sake and Japanese beer are in no short supply, and there’s also the sweet Japanese soda known as ramune for the under-21 crowd.
Many would associate live sea urchins with a trip to the aquarium, not dinner at an upscale eatery. Welcome to Shinsei. When Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing created Shinsei, which translates to “rebirth” or “new beginning,” it was with the understanding that the restaurant would resemble nothing else in Dallas. Their chic Pan-Asian eatery certainly breaks the mold with “off-the-menu” sushi made up of regulars' favorites, including the live sea urchin. But there’s also a classic sushi menu—which, beyond not containing living animals, even features some fully cooked seafood—and creative kitchen entrées, such as jalapeno poppers stuffed with coconut chicken. Tracy and Lynae’s creativity also shines through in Shinsei’s interior, thanks to the help of a professional designer. With green carpets masquerading as grass and brown wicker chairs; bamboo-inspired paneling, and tables reminiscent of severed tree stumps standing in for the forest, its design brings the outdoors in without having to ask woodland creatures to remove their shoes. Out on the patio, though, plants and blue sky promise authentic encounters with Mother Nature.
Hanging lanterns spotlight sushi chefs in warm light as they stand behind an intimate sushi bar, garnishing freshly sliced sushi rolls with swirls of colorful sauces, sprigs of carrots, and plump portions of wasabi. In the kitchen, chefs peer over pots of bubbling noodles and simmering curries, meticulously adding dashes of spices and shoots of basil to procure complex and harmonious traditional Thai flavors. For dessert, the culinary artists pair sweet sticky rice with fresh mango and coconut ice cream.
Flowers of folded cloth napkins sit atop every table in the sunlit dining room, where dishes are joined by cups of jasmine and green teas. The restaurant is a BYOB establishment, enabling guests to bring their own bottles of wine.