Talk about right time/right place: The arrival of the stylish sushi restaurant MK's Sushi III comes just as a newfound appreciation of the classic Japanese cuisine is sweeping through the area. And what a smart place to land, in Fort Worth's burgeoning West 7th complex, where MK's sleek design, gorgeous lighting and thumping music will surely lure local hipsters.
Opened in November in a primo corner spot at the intersection of Foch and West Seventh streets, this is Mikyong "MK" Lee's third MK's restaurant. The original Bedford location opened in 2005; three years later, a second store followed in far north Fort Worth. All are operated by Lee, who, night after night, works at each restaurant, hustling from one to the other.
Unlike the modest designs of Lee's two other restaurants, MK's III is sleek and urban, tailored, she says, for the cool West 7th crowd. There's an illuminated bar, curvy booths and glass walls that make the small dining area and separate sushi bar seem larger than life. The restaurant is bathed in turquoise and white lighting, and trance music pulses in the background.
While its atmosphere may sound similar to that of other nearby sushi places, MK's stands apart with a menu that encompasses several styles of Asian cuisine, from stir-fried udon to yakisoba to more than 50 sushi rolls. There's also an emphasis on Korean dishes, including bulgogi ($15.95), barbecued pork and onions, and kalbi ($18.95), grilled short ribs. A native of Korea, Lee prepares some of these dishes and the sauces herself, using ingredients she hand-picks at local Korean markets.
In addition, an extensive drink menu features a dozen kinds of sake, from $12 to $250 a bottle; imported beers from Thailand, Japan and China; and 18 house martinis.
We started with a side of kimchee ($2.95). Napa cabbage were marinated in green onions, garlic, sesame seeds and red chile pepper. Chopped into bite sizes, they had a firm texture and pronounced, spicy flavor.
For those wanting a less fiery starter, there's the Hawaiian walu ceviche ($16.95), a generous mound of sliced, soft Hawaiian walu fish, sliced mangoes, strings of raw purple onions and jalapeño slices, all draped in a red wine-infused vinaigrette and surrounded by a circle of lime slices. The creamy vinaigrette and lime juice subdued the heat, but not the taste, of the onions and jalapeños, making this light and summery.
From the two-page sushi/sashimi menu, we chose two rolls: the signature MK roll ($14.50) and the C.C. roll ($11.95), both excellent. The MK roll was not the traditional rice-wrapped roll. Instead, six sushi pieces came wrapped in soft cucumber and were filled with quality yellowtail amberjack, tuna, salmon, snapper and shrimp, as well as masago caviar. They were served lying in a pool of citrusy ponzu sauce; erected center-plate were two more pieces of cucumber, carved in the shape of towers.
The more traditional C.C. roll, with a firm rice exterior, came packed with pieces of crab, avocado and cucumber and topped with crawfish and streaks of two sauces, an orange-colored spicy mayo and a creamy, spicy green wasabi sauce. There were a lot of strong flavors, but they coalesced nicely.
Desserts consisted of ice cream, fried ($6.50) or flavored (plum wine or green tea, both $2.95), along with less obvious options such as fried sponge cake ($5.50) and red bean shaved ice ($5.95). The latter was a Korean dish composed of sweet, whole red beans; chopped peaches and pears; and rice-cake chunks, all placed atop a pile of shaved ice. It was served in a bowl with sweet condensed milk, like cereal. Once you got used to the chewy texture of the beans, it was quite good and not too sweet. It's certainly not a dish you see every day, but this is not a sushi restaurant you see every day, either.