At the Plate: a reimagined Oshi and Indian Pass 

Now open: a new twist on a familiar spot, and a new one in Overton Square.

Food and fun at Oshi

Photographs by Justin Fox Burks

Food and fun at Oshi

Coming up soon, Oshi will host a sake tasting and a beer dinner. At one point, patrons will be introduced to the sake bomb. This involves a shot of sake balanced on chopsticks on top of a glass of beer. The chopsticks are parted, the shot goes in, and the rest is up to the consumer.

"People come here to have fun," says Minh Nguyen, one of Oshi's new owners, along with Tammy and Marvin Shackelford.

Oshi opened in 2014 on South Main, offering an imaginative menu of Asian-inflected burgers and dogs. With the new owners, the focus is now sushi. Nguyen says he expresses his personality through such favorite rolls as the Mist Roll (shrimp tempura, avocado topped with crabstick, spicy mayo, eel sauce, and sweet chili) and the B.P. Roll (spicy tuna, cream cheese, avocado, crunchies, white tuna, jalapeño, cilantro, mayo, and sriracha).

Nguyen gets creative through Omakase, where it's anything goes. The customer tells the chef what flavors he likes, and then Nguyen uses that intel to create a special dish.

One holdout from the old menu is the Asian burger, though Nguyen says their version is a completely new take. It's a wagyu patty with cheddar, bacon, tomato jam (!), sweet pepper sauce, fried egg, mixed greens, and a garlic aioli on a brioche bun. It comes with fries.

click to enlarge Inside Oshi on South Main
  • Inside Oshi on South Main

Also on the menu are pho, a vegetarian dumpling soup, crab cakes, fried calamari, vietnamese crepes, teriyaki, fried rice, fish and chips, and lobster roll.

The best way to peg the menu is Asian fusion.

Nguyen says he wants to challenge local palates, to teach Memphians to try new things.

"We want to make simple Asian food that tastes good and not the same," says Nguyen.

Kinon Kiplinger, manager of the newly open Indian Pass in Overton Square, says the Florida original was in an old gas station. It was nothing fancy, a place for family and friends, where "grab yourself a beer" was a common refrain.

That was the sort of attitude that led to the beer honor system, which began in the Florida location and is repeated in the Memphis restaurant.

It is what it sounds like. Guests fill their own glass, marking each beer they get on the sheet. It's up to the guest whether or not they are honest.

Before you get any big ideas about the beer, Indian Pass does have ways to keep on top of it. There are cameras, a tap attendant, and servers are taught to keep count.

"If you're not honorable," says Kiplinger, "we do have the right to prosecute."

Indian Pass' space was once Chiwawa, and before that Chicago Pizza Factory. The place has been expanded, the kitchen moved from downstairs to the main floor. The cool wrought-iron sign has been stripped of its "Midtown is Memphis," replaced with "Indian Pass."

According to owner/operations manager George Gouras, the idea was "to wipe away the remnants of the tenant before them."

The menu is on the small-ish side, with raw, baked, and char-grilled oysters, head-on shrimp and crab featuring steamed, broiled, and stuffed shrimp and steamed crab legs. For those not into seafood, there's the "Land Food" part of the menu with burger, cheeseburger, and a grilled chicken sandwich. One thing you won't see is a deep-fryer. Gouras says if someone wants something fried, they'll see to it. Otherwise, the idea is to "keep things good; keep things fresh."

To that end, Gouras drives halfway to Jackson, Mississippi, to meet his seafood guy. He fetches several hundred pounds once or twice a week.

The menu isn't the same as the Florida restaurant. That's due to Gouras own take on dishes like the crab dip and the gumbo.

Kiplinger describes Indian Pass as a "little getaway," perfect for the 30A crowd. But it still has that essential Memphis vibe. "It's a little slice of Florida with a Memphis feel," says Kiplinger.

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