A handroll shuffle occurred this December at the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and Walnut Hill Lane. Where Sushi de Handroll once served temaki to Dallasites, a newcomer—Komé—has taken its place with a similar menu.
If you visited Sushi de Handroll, you’ll recognize a lot about Komé. The exuberant handroll-celebrating mural painted onto the back wall is still here, and the dining room still centers on a U-shaped bar. The bar itself has been rebuilt so that diners sit on high stools at the same level as the chefs, replacing Sushi de Handroll’s split-level arrangement. Even the sign next to the front door has been quickly tweaked: the Komé logo is affixed over the word “de”, between the words “Sushi” and “Handroll.” (Komé is not affiliated with the same-named spot in Austin; the name just means “rice,” so it is a popular one.)
Sushi de Handroll had the unfortunate disadvantage of being the third temaki concept to market in Dallas city limits. As everyone focused their attention on Namo in Uptown and Nori in Deep Ellum—two spots in premium neighborhoods, with memorable names—Sushi de Handroll’s out-of-the-way location may have done it no favors.
Give Komé a chance, though. I stopped in for a taste this weekend and sat at the bar, enjoying some simple, solid sushi. Two particularly good bites: a nigiri of salmon belly, sliced into a fan and gently seared with a blowtorch, and a handroll filled with toro, the fatty belly of tuna. The blowtorch came back out for my nigiri of super-marbled A5 Wagyu beef, sliced thinly, placed on a ball of rice, and blasted with fire.
In general, Komé’s best feature is the balance of flavor in each bite. The sushi chefs at this counter know how to keep citrus, spice, and garnishes in careful harmony. That salmon belly nigiri, particularly, had just-right touches of lemon, horseradish, and scallion.
There are a few caveats. Komé’s rice is not as warm, fluffy, or flavorful as the best sushi rice at premium restaurants. It tended to stick to my fingers. And some of the restaurant’s seating is at tables, away from the bar, which is a problem for the handroll format. Handrolls must be eaten as quickly as they are made, with no time for waiting or taking photos, because the seaweed wrapping will stiffen and become crumbly. To get around this problem for diners at tables, the chefs at Komé pre-cut their handrolls into quarters, basically turning them into regular pieces of makizushi. It’s a good compromise, but purists may raise their eyebrows.
There’s an appealing choose-your-own-adventure aspect to Komé. You can order a money-saving set menu of handrolls (three for $13.50 or three vegetarian for $12, four for $18.50, five for $24.50, six for $28.50).
Or you could go all-in on luxury. There is plenty of trendy uni (sea urchin) available here, more slices of Wagyu beef, and the inevitable helpings of foie gras. One ultra-luxurious handroll is $18 for a half-sized roll—just two bites—because it features Wagyu beef, tuna belly, and uni. The “Komé Tripple” (sic) is a three-part attack of sushi luxury, with uni, salmon roe, and a quail egg perched on top. I also spotted a special featuring ankimo, the indulgent monkfish liver dish that is rare in Texas despite being considered the seafood equivalent of foie gras.
Even if Komé isn’t as much of a destination as Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar, which is well worth the drive to Fort Worth, it is a versatile place. You can dress up and indulge in uni and ankimo, or dress casually and stop in for a vegetarian handroll trio. The chefs are friendly, fastidious, and fun to watch. Our server was nervous—working their very first shift—but kind. And the Japanese beer list ranges from usual suspects like Sapporo to four bottlings from Kawaba, a microbrewery in a small Japanese mountain village. This looks like a fun, relaxing neighborhood sushi spot.
Komé Sushi and Handroll Bar, 4081 Walnut Hill Ln., Ste. 820