Photos by Shannon Richardson

Oishii Japanese Sushi & Sake

Amarillo’s newest Asian restaurant definitely elevates the local sushi experience with creative flavor combinations and presentation. A partnership between local restaurateurs La Pham and James Bouamidi, Oishii Japanese Sushi & Sake is located in the former home of Embers Steakhouse and has transformed that traditional setting into a modern Asian fusion dining experience.

And eating there is an experience. The menu is huge. The seafood is fresh. The dishes are designed to induce gasps as they arrive at the table. 

As our secret food critic wrote in a recent “Cloak & Diner” review of Oishii, “all areas of the menu pay attention to presentation, but it’s not all style and no substance at Oishii.” (Be sure to subscribe to Flavorillo, our free email newsletter about the local restaurant scene, for access to these monthly reviews.)

Consider the Lobster Bomb, a signature sushi roll containing tempura lobster tails, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, tempura flakes and masago, and served with the empty carapace of a lobster tail propped up against a martini glass overflowing with tempura lobster bits. It’s a lot. Or the Salmon Bomb, an appetizer from the sushi bar that intriguingly wraps spicy kani (crab sticks) with salmon topped with thinly sliced strawberries. The unconventional pairing uses the sweetness of the strawberry to cut through the richness of the salmon.

The Oishii Chili Ceviche was an unexpected favorite appetizer, featuring thin-sliced red snapper topped with fresh lime zest, onion, thai chili peppers and a house umami fresh lime sauce.

For less adventurous diners, the traditional Asian staples are just as worthwhile, from the House Fried Rice to the Udon Drunken Noodles.

Oishii opened this past summer under the leadership of Bouamidi, who serves as general manager and came to the U.S. from Laos in 2007.  Known by the restaurant staff as “Uncle James,” he operated the Oishii restaurant in Clovis, New Mexico, before opening in Amarillo. Prior to that, Bouamidi spent more than a decade at a prominent sushi restaurant in West Palm Beach, Florida. “I’ve been doing it for a long time,” he says of creating sushi dishes and menus. “I like to bring new ideas.” 

He leads a team including Jackie Ketalath and “Uncle Randy” Vongphachan. La Pham describes them as “the artwork and taste of every sushi dish that comes out of the restaurant.”

Bouamidi admits that access to quality seafood in Amarillo is a little more challenging than what he experienced in Florida, but Oishii receives shipments three times a week to make sure the fish is as fresh as possible. All the sauces are made from scratch in-house by Vongphachan. Patrons have responded: The restaurant has been incredibly busy since opening, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings.

2721 Virginia Circle