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A Crash Course in Temaki-Style Sushi Awaits at These Heights Hand Roll Spots

Separated by only a mile, Hando and Handies Douzo are both serving the city’s trendiest sushi offering

A tuna-stuffed handroll at Hando
| Al Torres Photography for Hando

After decades of maki roll domination, temaki-style sushi is finally having a moment in Houston. Unlike the typical nori-wrapped rolls that are cut into bite-sized slices, these cylindrical rolls offer a solid portion of seasoned sushi rice and top-notch fish that’s reasonably priced, easy to eat, and served quickly.

As handrolls are trending across the state, Houston recently scored two of its own restaurants devoted to temaki-style sushi, and they’re both in the Heights, which makes it easy to scope out the scene. The first, Handies Douzo, took over a super-cute house at 3510 White Oak Drive, while Hando operates in a more modern, sleeker space that’s only about a mile away on West 11th Street.

Offering a happy medium in between terrible (but i) grocery store sushi and lavishly priced, multi-course omakase services at vaunted sushi establishments like Kata Robata and Uchi, these newcomers are a perfect option for a quick sushi dinner that doesn’t skimp on quality.

Not particularly well-versed in the world of hand rolls? Consider a crash course in temaki sushi via a mini-crawl at Handies Douzo and Hando. For this crawl, there’s no real rules — start at one, end up at the other, and eat a whole lot of excellent raw fish (and more!) along the way.

A chef places a crab-stuffed handroll on a serving plate Courtesy Handies Douzo

Handies Douzo

A project of chefs Daniel Lee and Patrick Pham, who also operate sushi spot Kokoro at Bravery Chef Hall, Handies Douzo boasts a stripped-down, izakaya-style vibe in its tiny space. High-top stools at the 26-seat, U-shaped bar offers the only seating in the restaurant, and it can be a little bit tight when the restaurant is pretty crowded.

Still, Handies Douzo is definitely worth rubbing elbows with strangers. Beginners should definitely try the 3-roll set, which includes a killer spicy tuna roll that’s spiked with habanero and wrapped in perfectly crisp nori, along with Lee and Pham’s bright crudo preparations.

Note: Handies Douzo hasn’t secured its liquor license yet, which means that diners will have to bring their own bottles of sake or wine to share during dinner.

Al Torres Photography for Hando

Hando

With a slightly lengthier menu, Hando boasts a fun selection of appetizers that’s worth a try. Instead of launching right into the handrolls, start with a bowl of hearty miso soup that’s topped with a fun, slightly spicy yuzu-mustard foam, or perhaps an order of crispy Brussels sprouts that’s showered in bonito flakes and drizzled with Japanese mayo.

Now, onto the handrolls: Like Handies Douzo, Hando offers excellent-quality fish, which means that it’s hard to go wrong with a classic salmon or yellowtail handroll. But also pay close attention to the vegetarian offerings — there’s a great tofu option that’s served with dashi jelly, and a deeply flavored mushroom roll that’s stuffed with enoki, beech, shiitake, and crunchy daikon sprouts.

Unlike Handies Douzo, Hando does have a cocktail menu, and it’s worth checking out. Consider the Sweet Gin Music, a spicy mix of herbal liqueur génépy, Roku gin, habanero, lime, and shishito pepper that’s served in a mug that’s shaped like a pufferfish.

Note: don’t bring cash to Hando — the restaurant only accepts credit cards.

Hando [Official Photo]

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