Every once in a while, I stumble across a menu item that seems too weird to be true. Take, for example, one of my all-time favorite burgers, once served at the now-defunct Wicked Whisk food truck, topped with peanut butter and jalapeño jelly. I almost always order these deliberately weird dishes, because they almost always turn out to be hidden gems.
EurAsia Fusion Sushi
1330 Wirt Rd., Ste. B
The most recent gem I ran across was an appetizer listed at the very top of the pages-long menu at EurAsia Fusion Sushi: jalapeños stuffed with peanut butter, cream cheese, and crab, topped with spicy mayonnaise. Its place of prominence on the massive menu made it seem as if EurAsia was insistent that you not miss this dish—insistent that it was good, and you should try it, in fact order it right now.
And so we did. "Great choice!" the waiter chirped. We didn't know if he was being sarcastic or not. As we waited for the stuffed peppers to emerge, we perused the giant menu, trying to decide what to order in case our appetizer was too scary to eat. When it finally emerged, my dining buddy and I regarded it with suspicion. Jalapeño halves were splayed open, sort of half-heartedly breaded and fried on one side, radiating from a central mound of what looked like barely-cooked rice noodles. EurAsia wasn't winning any points on presentation, as demonstrated by the [equally unappealing] photo below.
I took the first bite. And to my amazement, it was delicious. The peanut butter was barely noticable, adding only a gentle, nutty sweetness much like Thai peanut sauce. The creaminess of the peanut butter melded with the cream cheese, which was a welcome contrast with the sweet, slightly chewy crab and the crunch of the jalapeño. I understood with that first bite, too, why the thing was only partly fried: the crispy batter combined with the still mostly raw jalapeño for one-two punch of crunch.
The entire appeal was apparent, too, in that first bite. We are attracted to the same qualities in the stuffed jalapeño dish as we are in junk food: it's salty, sweet, creamy, and crunchy. It may as well be salted caramel ice cream with pretzel bits, or a chocolate-dipped potato chip. At least one can make the argument that the stuffed jalapeño is a few steps up from outright junk food, though (hey, fresh vegetables!).
The rest of our dishes at EurAsia were equally appealing: seared tuna topped with crispy garlic and ponzu, lovely yellowtail amberjack sashimi, a couple of interesting rolls, and a cheap bottle of sparkling sake. I wasn't surprised to see that EurAsia was packed, and with what seemed to be regulars, though I was surprised that I'd never been before. I'd only stumbled on it while looking for something relatively healthy (oh well) to eat while running errands in Spring Branch.
Turns out that EurAsia is quite the sleeping sushi giant and has quite the following. It's accumulated over 160 reviews on Yelp, most of which are glowing four- and five-star reviews. Still, I got the sense that this was a neighborhood place—one by and for people in the area, and not the kind of place that seeks any greater publicity. My suspicions were slightly confirmed after I posted a photo of the stuffed jalapeño dish to my Instagram account: "I love this place," wrote my friend K.C. Taffinder. "Don't tell anyone; let's keep it a secret."