Back in December, Jellyfish Sushi & Grill opened in the former Flying Pho space at 34th Street and Ella Boulevard in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest. I'm disappointed that the northern-style pho that Christopher Huang was featuring there didn't quite ... take off, but maybe the location wasn't the best spot. Maybe this strip in the GOOF needs something a little more expected and comfortable, so in comes a neighborhood sushi place—you know, with the classic maki like a Philadelphia roll and a spicy tuna roll.
But wait! Have you tried the Japan nachos?
Essentially it's a version of what some might call poke nachos. Fried wonton chips provide a bed for ahi tuna cubes, sliced avocado, cilantro leaves, lightly pickled jalapeño discs, and a generous drizzling of eel sauce. The thick chips are sturdy with air pockets, and they snap satisfyingly upon biting. The silky tuna is ample enough to stand up against the light pepper heat and cilantro sharpness, and the eel sauce echoes the sweet and smoky tang of barbecue sauce. Scoop a little of everything onto a chip and you might feel, like me, that this is a special dish that's far too easy to devour.
Okay. Back to the rolls—there's California and Philadelphia; spicy tuna; and salmon and spider. A few of the Signature rolls have some Korean influence, including the Jellyfish with spicy tuna, pepper tuna, cucumber, house-made gochujang, and micro greens; and the K-Pop Salmon with smoked salmon, avocado, and seared salmon atop oily kimchee ponzu with scallions and sliced red onions. The K-Pop has a lot going for it, including the double salmon explosion and the wickedly sour and salty ponzu, though maybe some sweetness (instead of those red onions) might work to balance out that oil.
Jellyfish has nigiri and sashimi as well, with familiar cuts like hamachi (yellowtail), kunsei sake (smoked salmon), and unagi (eel), plus hibachi and noodle-and-rice dishes. There are also salads, a few small plates (yakitori, tempura, gyoza)—the point is, it's a big menu, the opposite of the concept that previously lived in the building.
Jellyfish should be just fine with all its rolls, hibachi offerings, small plates, salads, and such. As a neighborhood sushi joint—a fair amount of tables despite a small dining room, good service, a pleasant environment—it'll play. But the wild cards here, from the way Korean sneaks into the maki to those freakin' nachos, are worth discovering.