Soma Sushi in Houston, Texas managed to surprise me and that’s not an easy thing to do. When they first opened last year I naively attempted to order sushi to go but apparently that was something unheard of so I was turned away – seriously. Then I dined at Hue which is owned by the same people and since my experience at Hue was less than favorable, I was expecting more of the same from SOMA; but fortunately the chefs at SOMA actually care about the quality and presentation of their food.
SOMA is what you’d call über-hip, chic and trendy. We sat in a cozy booth tucked in between the sushi bar and alcohol bar which was perfect for people watching. The leather booth had a pattern made to look like crocodile skin and the result was extremely relaxing. I felt like I was in a Manhattan club with dance music that played loudly – a bit too loudly to carry on a decent conversation if you ask me or maybe I’m just too old for that scene – and the vibe was definitely upbeat.
Some of the Asian female wait staff was dressed inappropriately and by that, I mean they looked like street walkers with eight inch heels, short shorts, and lacy red bras. What was the point of that? It made me feel as if I was eating in an illegal restaurant and was the low note of the night. Our waiter was extremely young, green (new), and inexperienced but his enthusiasm and attentiveness more than made up for it.
I had the best green tea at SOMA and they did not even charge for my plethora of refills. The flavor was bold and authentic, and the temperature was perfect.
I convinced my husband to share an appetizer known as Destiny: five different types of flavored nigiri where no soy sauce was required. The Destiny cost $12 but it was worth every penny. It came with unique items like grilled scallop, garlic tuna, spicy yellowtail, and sweet salmon. I give the chef a 10 for the originality, freshness of the seafood, and of course the taste.
The other appetizer we shared was called the Crazy Irishman; I wasn’t crazy about this one but luckily my husband was. I can’t even tell you how many pieces came in this sliced roll but there were at least 14 pieces so for $11 this was actually a good deal. The Crazy Irishman consisted of salmon, avocado (and other menu items which escape my memory) wrapped in green soy paper. It was original but it didn’t have the wow factor I was hoping for.
SOMA Surf and Turf
My husband had the SOMA Surf and Turf which came with ribbons of Kobe beef and snapper sashimi. My husband thought the beef was tender but not spectacular; and the snapper was super fresh and tasted even better when dipped in soy sauce. He thought they had put some sort of oil on the snapper which he was not overly fond of. His portion was like haute cuisine but fortunately he had the leftover Crazy Irishman rolls to fill him up. The surf and turf cost $15 and for Kobe beef, that’s not a bad price.
Sweet and Spicy Shrimp
I, on the other hand, had the Sweet and Spicy Shrimp which was probably enough for two people but I ate the entire thing myself – mine, all mine! It cost $21 but like I said, it was a very large portion which could have been shared (if someone was less selfish than me).
The sweet and spicy shrimp came with two mounds of sticky rice – one of my favorites that I can rarely find in a restaurant. The shrimp was an oxymoron because each one was humungous although none were spicy. This dish also came with bok choy, and asparagus the width of two adult thumbs – where are they getting their supersized food? There was a hint of sweet teriyaki sauce but it was too subtle for my liking. I hate to admit it but I ate everything all by myself, although I let my husband try one of the jumbo shrimp.
For the atmosphere and interior design SOMA is a must, but they also have fresh, wonderful food to justify the price tag. My husband thought it was similar to Nobu in London, but I thought SOMA was a million times better, not to mention less expensive.
SOMA is located on the edge of the Houston Heights at 4820 Washington Avenue, Houston, Texas, 77007. Their phone number is 713-861-2726. The last time I checked their web site it was down but here it is anyway: www.somasushi.com.