May 24, 2011

Restaurant Review: Toyama Sushi

"Oh look, there's a new restaurant. I wonder if it is good. We should go sometime."  Then we typically forget about it. As such, this conversation with Ross probably happened a good 5-8 times every time we drove by Toyama on Shepard but we finally tried it!  Walking in, the restaurant features clean designs, bright colors and several areas for seating - booths, tables and a modestly sized bar. I have to admit, I automatically cringed just a wee bit wondering if this was going to be a Zake or a Ra where they start playing club music to make it a little more hip, but no fear, it wasn't. 

As we looked at the menu, we immediately commented that the menu is glaringly similar to our favorite sushi restaurant, Osaka, on Westheimer. The waiter informed us that they are sister restaurants - queue my big smile and soon to be happy stomach.  

Owned by Shirley Li, who also owns Osaka, Toyama is a nice surprise. It is apparently named after a small town close to Osaka and as I write this, I actually remember my family trip to Japan several years ago where we actually visited this city - touring the castle museum and a sake brewery =).  

As for the sushi, the quality of the fish tastes fresh, sushi roll options are varied but without any fuss and the prices are very reasonable. They also had a 50 percent off sushi and rolls when we went on a late Saturday afternoon.  However, I do have the say that the quality at Osaka is just a little bit better. When we have the salmon sashimi at Osaka, it is like butter and we have a little sigh of happiness. At Toyama, it just didn't seem to be on the same level but I give it leeway as it's a fairly new restaurant.

Here's what was on our menu. The first is a chopped scallop roll - very simple, to the point, no embellishments. One of my favorites simply because I love chopped scallop so much but if you are really want the best chopped scallop that I've tried in town thus far, go to Miyakos.  We also had a roll that was the other favorite of the meal - white fish sushi roll with seared tuna and strawberry. I was surprised by the fresh, bright flavor the slice of strawberry added to this roll and how well it complemented the fish. The crab roll topped with fresh salmon and crunch was also good but out of everything we tried, probably our least favorite. Simply good but nothing spectacular.

Oh, and the added perk of Toyama? Following the tradition at Osaka, we received a complementary appetizer and ice cream with fried banana dessert.  Yes, please!  Overall, the restaurant is a great alternative to Osaka if you are looking for a much less expensive meal, especially if you go during their happy hour.  Service is quite good and they refilled our drinks and cleared our empty plates often.  My only qualm I have is their location and most specifically, their parking lot which I think literally only fits 5-8 cars. You'll most likely end up having to park in the neighborhood and walk to the restaurant.  We've been two additional times since our first visit and we leave with pretty happy stomachs. Check out Toyama or Osaka when you have the chance.  I'm always open to other sushi restaurants so please share!

2802 S Shepherd Dr
Houston, TX 77098

515 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

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