Sunday, March 07, 2004

"Only in Houston," Japaneiro's Sushi Bistro & Latin Grill.

Japaneiro's Sushi Bistro & Latin Grill is a one-of-a-kind eatery owned by Robert White, who also operates the Sasu Sushi restaurant in Sugar Land. White comes by his fusion cuisine honestly. His mother is from Venezuela, and he grew up in South America and New York. His Latin American-Japanese combos are his own originals. At lunch one day, I sampled Japaneiro's Japanese calamari ceviche. The multicolored calamari is finely diced with a sushi knife until it resembles chopped clams. Then it's combined with lime juice, ginger and soy in a pleasant spin on the South American marinated fish dish.

I also sampled a deep-fried creation called a Latino roll, which reminded me of Mexico City sushi. It contained hamachi, fake crab, cream cheese and jalapeños, and it was deep-fried in tempura batter, sliced and then topped with some kind of mayonnaise. It was okay, but I coveted my lunchmate's soft-shell crab sandwich and Japanese-style salad.

On the weekends, the lights go down low after dinner, and Japaneiro's turns into Sugar Land's hippest nightspot. (Not that there's much competition.)

I danced with my daughter and my dining companion for a while, but we weren't in step with the crowd. The best dancer on the floor was a short Latino woman dressed in black, who suddenly grabbed my teenage daughter's hand and started teaching her some merengue steps. Within a few minutes, my daughter had joined a circle of dancers and was gyrating her hips with her arms held high in the air.

"Daddy," my daughter enthused as I dragged her to the car after the song had finished. "Can we come back here again?"

"The Land of Azúcar might be a little too wild for your daddy," my dining companion chuckled.

Japaneiro's Sushi Bistro & Latin Grill on the high side but good.
Details: Cabo San Lucas: $18...if you love hot and spicy sushi, this is a standout.
Calamari ceviche: $6...pleasant spin on the South American marinated fish dish.
Churrasco: $ extremely tender piece of beef that's been marinated, butterflied and grilled medium rare, vegetables, plaintain, sauces including chimichurri.
Grilled seafood platter: $18...grilled salmon, juicy scallops, slightly overcooked grilled shrimp, sweet fried plantains and grilled carrots and squash. There's a small bowl of guacamole on one end of the long rectangular plate and a smaller dish with three kinds of dipping sauces on the other. The sauces are a red chile, a green tomatillo and a creamy black bean.
Three-course lunch special: $12
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays; noon to 10 p.m. Sundays.
Where: 2168 Texas Drive (in Sugar Land's Town Square), 281-242-1121.

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