At the ripe old age of 25, chef Jesus Garcia is shaking up the Metroplex's sushi bar scene one okonomiyaki at a time. After training in classical French techniques at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin and working for some of Dallas' most notable restaurants, from Stephan Pyles to Five-Sixty, Garcia took center stage as the chef at Little Lilly Sushi when it debuted on Fort Worth's west side last September.
Shying away from the Americanized rolls that are so popular at many sushi joints, Garcia instead chooses to set Little Lilly apart from the competition by focusing on quality and genuine creativity.
Says Garcia: "I really make an effort to find the very best fish and I also make everything in-house, that way I know exactly what's in there. We make our dashi in house every day. My goal is to always have the final dish taste like what it is — I'm not gonna cover everything in mayo or fry it or anything like that to try and hide any imperfections. That's sort of the safe route; of course it's going to taste good when you do that. I'm proud of the product that we use and I showcase it every time I put a plate out."
The seafood selection is constantly evolving based on what's available, but diners can often find items like West coast uni, monkfish liver, and prized fatty toro. Besides the extensive menu of sushi and sashimi, one of Little Lilly's big draws is Garcia's inventive daily specials, from various ramen varieties like pork shoyu, chashu, and even brisket to the okonomiyaki, which he describes as "almost like a Chinese pancake with an Osaka twist to it", with a sauce that features local Texas honey; a surf-and-turf version made with duck and oyster is one of the most talked-about items to come out of the kitchen.
Intent on giving his guests what they want, Garcia makes his own gluten-free eel sauce and ponzu, two sauces that are typically off-limits for people with gluten sensitivities. He's currently developing a gluten-free tempura batter, saying, "I try to listen what my clients say and take action based on what they want, and one of the things they want the most is tempura, so I've got to find a way to let them eat it again."
Vegetarians will be happy to find several selections tailored to them, like agedashi tofu and specials such as kuromame hummus that's made with black soybeans.
Little Lilly is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
· Little Lilly Sushi [Official]
· Little Lilly Sushi [Facebook]
· The 17 Hottest Sushi Restaurants in America Right Now [Eater National]