Sushi hand rolls have arrived in The Heights. Hando, a new restaurant dedicated to temaki, opened for lunch and dinner on Wednesday, December 18.
Only 22-seats, all of Hando's seating is around one central counter that was designed by local firm JT Arc Studio and built by Construction Concepts. From their perch, diners can watch chef Man Nguyen and his team prepare the rolls; another section is devoted to the bar, which features cocktails alongside a selection of Japanese whisky.
The ordering process is relatively straightforward. Diners select from a menu of 12 hand rolls — selections include salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and a housemade beef spam musubi — or they may opt for a preset selection of three, four, or five rolls. In order to ensure the nori wrapper stays crispy, rolls are prepared and served individually; diners are encouraged to eat them quickly, before the nori becomes chewy. Prices range from $4 for a cucumber roll to $8.50 for either toro or lobster.
In addition to hand rolls, Hando (pronounced Han-dough) serves small plates such as Brussels sprouts, miso soup, and a version of chips and dip made with sesame crackers and an edamame-avocado spread. They're prepared by sous chef Michael Fee, who worked with Nguyen at Nobu Houston.
Hando owner Jason Andaya returned to his hometown after time spent working for Marriott International and a restaurant group in Los Angeles; this restaurant is the first concept from his new company, Family Meal Group. During an interview on the What's Eric Eating podcast, Nguyen explained why he chose to focus on hand rolls rather than other types of sushi.
"For me, hand rolls are a completely different experience. The way we will serve them is they'll be coursed-out throughout the meal. If you order five, you would only have one in front of you each time, and the sushi chef would deliver the next one when you're done," Andaya says. "This way, you're guaranteed the freshest product possible. The seaweed stays crispy, the rice is a little bit warm, and the protein isn't sitting at room temperature on your plate."
Hando is the second restaurant devoted to temaki to open in The Heights this month. Handies Douzo, a new concept from Kokoro chefs Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee, opened a couple of weeks ago. While both restaurants will likely evolve over time, Hando currently sets itself apart with a larger selection of hand rolls, serving hot appetizers, and a full liquor license (Handies is currently BYOB but will eventually serve beer, wine, and sake).
Hando; 518 W 11th St.; Sunday - Thursday, 11 am - 10 pm; Friday and Saturday 11 am - 11 pm; 713-393-7425; no cash accepted.