After two sushi-less years a chef at Oxford Grillehouse realized his longtime dream of having his own restaurant: Mr. Phat’s Sushi & Wok. The restaurant opened last week within the FINS Fish and Oyster Co. on the Square. The rolls were unique as if Two Stick was open again on the Square.
Chef Clint Boutwell shares his thoughts on his longtime friend and coworker Mr. Phat opening his restaurant within FINS.
Boutwell, owner of Oxford Grillehouse and FINS, had said in an earlier interview that he loves to eat Mr. Phat’s sushi as much as Mr. Phat loves to roll them. It was his idea to replace his oyster bar with Mr. Phat’s own restaurant within FINS. There are two ways to get in to the sushi restaurant: the entrance to FINS from the Square, and from the back alley where all the bar-hoppers wander.
Mr. Phat has an infectious grin as he talked about his three children. One of them graduated from University of Mississippi in the late 1990s, Mr. Phat said with radiating pride. He is an easy man to talk to especially if the customers opt to watch him roll their dinners.
No matter where the customers walk in Mr. Phat awaits them from behind the black bar outlined with red trim. A handful of cozy table and chairs sit behind a divider with a window for the customers to peer into the FINS restaurant, perhaps to encourage them into ordering a lobster from FINS to go with the sushi rolls.
I walked in on last Wednesday night after the basketball game against LSU. The restaurant was quiet, a blessing after the noisy game with an unwelcome score. There was a movie playing on the television behind Mr. Phat: a semi-biographic movie “Ip Man.”
I ordered a hot and sour soup – a brave moment after trying sludge that passed as hot n’ sour soup at other restaurants that shall remain unnamed. The appetizer came at the same time as the sushi rolls. Mr. Phat is that speedy, even with a cooked sushi on his order list.
Mr. Phat’s sushi are traditional yet there are some with twists: seared garlic tuna roll, for example. The roll melts in the mouth with a biting, smoky taste. The spicy tuna roll is a staple in many sushi restaurants yet Mr. Phat’s spicy roll had its own standout taste. It was obviously spicy but with nose-clearing freshness. The hot and sour soup was an instant favorite. The two tastes weren’t overwhelming to the point of saltiness. It was an effort to not slurp the soup down.
Another notable sushi roll is one named after Mr. Phat himself. It has lobster claw meat, shrimp and cream cheese with asparagus and yukituri sauce. I have yet to try that one but I plan to when I get a wok dish next time.
I have not ordered his wok dishes but I want to try them on my next visit to Mr. Phat’s soon. They’re customizable with plentiful selections of rice and noodles, vegetables, and 10 sauces Mr. Phat created during his 15 years at Ruby Chinese. They will be served with one protein and any other dressings like shiitake mushrooms, bok choy and bamboo shoots to name a few.
Callie Daniels is a staff reporter for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.