Sushi 9 Thai and Japanese
720 Schillinger Road, Suite A-4
Mobile, AL 36695
In the midst of all the Christmas hullabaloo, the MacDonalds like to take a break from the holiday treats and find a cozy booth somewhere in the confines of an Asian restaurant. At Picker’s Paradise, we have the most loving customers on the Gulf Coast. Our shop counters are still full of candied pecans, five different types of fudge, shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate, muffins full of nuts and raisins, and more treats I am forgetting, for sure. The staff and I are lucky to have only gained a little weight over the past two weeks, but the sweets aren’t gone, yet.
The good news is I will not eat anything sweet for months once this is over, but today I needed to derail the sugar train and go for the more savory. This year for Christmas Asian we decided on Schillinger Road’s Sushi 9.
It was a boys’ day out. Momma needed a break, and Lucas, Graham, Henry and I were happy to oblige by loading up the family truckster and heading west. We had toyed with the idea of Mexican, but sushi is one of the true loves of my 10-year-old. I’d wondered how baby Henry would handle the trip, but he will behave for his biggest brother, Lucas.
The restaurant looks small at first, but can actually accommodate a decent crowd. We were one of the early tables, newbies, but caught wind of the sushi chef’s news of a newborn baby from talkative regulars. That was a good sign. I didn’t know much about this place, but regulars on a Sunday seemed promising.
Summer rolls ($4.95 a pair) were also promising. Freshly wrapped rice paper around the noodles, shrimp and cucumber were extremely tender. They used lettuce instead of the peppery greenery some places flaunt. The result was a milder summer roll perfect for a young man’s introduction to the dish. Even the peanut sauce was mild. I usually spice it up with Sriracha, but today I didn’t want to offend the next generation at my table.
These boys are freaks for gyoza ($5.95). We had our half dozen fried, and the results were fantastic. The dumpling was crispy on the edges, but delicately cut with a fork. It was not a heavy dumpling; instead, it was lighter and airy compared to most. Even baby Henry was over the moon for them. Four out of four of us say this is our favorite dumpling in Mobile right now.
Graham always gets a plain California roll ($6.95), today being no different from any other. But I was proud of the fellow for branching out and adding a Who Dat roll ($15.95). It was a tall order for a small guy, but cream cheese and avocado snuggled next to lobster tempura. The roll was topped with crawfish dynamite sauce and roe, and I was glad to see how fond of it he was. He rounded out his meal with a small miso soup ($4.95).
Lucas was feeling obviously crunchy and started with a Sushi 9 roll ($12.95). This deep-fried monster was full of tuna, salmon, eel, scallion and cream cheese, but he favored the Volcano roll ($12.95). In his words, the snapper tempura, crab stick and avocado were more enjoyable with the crab dynamite atop. Both were good — he’s just learning not everything is better fried.
I was seeking a little heat in the bowl of Tom Ka Kai ($5.95). It was just enough to open the nose. A very clean version, the mushrooms and onion were not overdone (a common, unforgivable offense), and Henry helped me eat the tender chicken, despite the hint of spice being a bit much for a toddler.
Henry then made a power move and ordered cheese wontons ($5.95) from the kids’ menu. Opting for French fries over the egg roll, he had a blast with the ketchup. I have to say, though, those wontons were perfect. Lightly fried and the right amount of cream cheese, it’s the little things that make a restaurant special.
I finished off the ordering with a less-predictable (for me) Pad Thai chicken ($11.95). I rarely eat Pad Thai. It’s just a little boring to me. I don’t know why. I love onions and green onions, chicken, peanuts and noodles, and on this day the desire hit me. And you know, I found it delightful. That slightly greasy mouthfeel and the texture of the noodles could have used a glass of wine, but I simply wasn’t in the mood. Maybe next time.
It was a man-sized lunch. There were leftovers going home, ensuring future arguments that sound something like, “Hey, that was my roll you just finished,” or “Don’t eat all of the cold French fries.” Of course, we need those for hash browns. My leftovers were toddler dinners for two days.
The year was coming to an end. Attitudes were changing. At 15, Lucas is all grown up and orders like a boss. His next sushi experience will be different. Graham is only 10, but his palate is mature beyond his years. I can’t wait to see what the next year will be like for him. I’d never even had sushi when I was his age. Even in the middle of the “terrible twos,” Henry doesn’t suffer fools in the food department. He ate some of everything on the table, not excluding garnishes.
Even I was ordering a bit out of character. It was a day of us trying new things and revisiting old. I was proud of how adventurous these boys were. It’s easy when the food is good. I think Sushi 9 is a great fit for us. You should try it. The gyoza alone is worth it.
Happy New Year.
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