Happy Sushi • 3662 Airport Blvd. • Mobile, AL 36608 • 251-217-2967
Dude Date Night! Sometimes you just need an evening out with the boys. A little different from the more common Dude Date Night, this one involved myself and two wingmen, Lucas and Graham. At ages 15 and 10, the debauchery level was certain to be much lower than most DDNs, even though Lucas had gotten his learner’s permit the day before.
We were looking for sushi, more specifically for a spot to replace Graham’s beloved Fuji San, which closed this past month. Tonight was more of an audition, the first of what should be many outings for the MacDonald boys on a quest. Our stop was at Happy Sushi.
This smiling little spot is in the Yester Oaks Shopping Center next to Brick & Spoon. With every other table roped off for social distancing and plexiglass shields between adjacent booths, we entered a spot that was still pretty happening for a COVID-19-aware dinner. They sat us at a booth long enough to fit maybe eight people.
Our first order was gyoza ($4.95). In no time, a miniature bullet train on a track next to our booth rolls up with our food. Graham was on the inside and was in charge of relaying the grub, all the while giggling like a schoolboy over the delivery. The gyoza would have been our first order had we been to Fuji San, and these were spectacular. Crispy, like I prefer, these sweetly fried dumplings had a slightly spicy sauce. It was a good sign.
The menu seemed to heavily promote their wings ($5.95), so we had to try them. Here came our trolly with a half dozen, fried nude with sweet teriyaki sauce, perched on a bed of fries (a surprise!) with cups of ketchup and ranch dipping sauces. The wings weren’t bad, and I’d like to have them super hot when the kids aren’t around. Maybe next time. The fries, on the other hand, were really good. Immediately I knew we were comparing apples to oranges on this round. That isn’t a problem for these boys.
The side of fries were so good that we didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty about ordering bulgogi fries ($9.95). Bulgogi is a sweet Korean barbecue of beef, one of my personal faves. To simply serve it over fries is the kind of fusion I would dream up. For this round we ditched the chopsticks and manned the forks. It’s a little messy, but it’s really good.
If you have bulgogi fries, why not have a bulgogi taco ($4.95)? We were snacking our little train right off the track when we saw this. The shell is a tempura-fried sheet of seaweed loaded with sushi rice and topped with bulgogi. I found it, frankly, hard to eat. I didn’t hate it, but should spend my energy elsewhere. I’d have preferred a soft taco version sans rice, but with more veggies.
That did, however, lead us a step closer to sushi. Graham always starts with a California roll ($7.50). He’s getting better at using chopsticks, and it puts a smile on my face to see him persevere. He needed that extra practice before crossing the table to grab a bite of Lucas’s rainbow roll ($12.95). The tuna, salmon and avocado were very fresh and well displayed. Any sauce did not approach that cheap, too sweet point. We were pleased (especially Lucas) with this roll.
Not to be left out of the sushi experience, I was having a pair of salmon nigiri and another pair of tuna nigiri ($3.50 each). Graham was trying to get in on my action, but a California roll has little trade value toward anything with tuna or salmon. Nice try, pal. I ended up giving him a salmon.
They wanted to know if the Tonkotsu ramen ($9.95) was better than what they make in the microwave at their mom’s house. I assured them it would be, and out came a giant bowl, this time carried by a waitress. She was kind enough to offer two more bowls so we could split it, no charge. We’d added crispy pork ($2). Sliced into thick strips, the pork remained deliciously crispy as we divided it into thirds.
Graham thought he really wanted half of the soft-boiled egg. Turns out he’s never had a soft-boiled egg. He gave it back, minus a small bite. We all loved the soup, but I’m willing to bet the younger MacDonald will still eat from his microwaveable cup when he isn’t at my house.
We weren’t done with our trolly. Mochi ice cream ($4.95) is the right way to finish the dinner here. You can pick two different flavors per order. Graham chose vanilla and Lucas tried green tea. Neither of them complained, nor said anything, for that matter, the second we unloaded the train. It was good enough for us to bring home a chocolate and vanilla for Katie.
Here’s the skinny: Happy Sushi has a touch of that chain-restaurant feel, but if you let that go you’ll find some very good dishes here. You have all of these interesting choices, but in the end, the sushi and ramen shined the brightest.
Have we found our replacement yet? I’m not sure. It would be a shame to find it on our first outing. Part of the thrill is in the hunt. But rest assured, this will not be my last time visiting Happy Sushi. Staff was great, the restaurant clean and although we can’t walk there, it’s just over the interstate from Midtown. We still have to bring Katie and Henry here for a final seal of approval, but I really enjoyed it.
We brought home a few leftovers, but only due to volume. Most of our plates were clean. It was a success. I could get used to this type of Dude Date Night. I didn’t feel so bad the next day.
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