OK, let's be honest: The name is more than a little off-putting. And the signage (a blank face with a pair of lips) is just as confusing. Is it a salon? A cosmetic shop? A botox boutique? Perhaps there's some secret agenda in the works for Lips, but in the meantime the shop is rolling out nigiri and maki rolls for its Southport neighbors.
Lips' red interior comes as no surprise, but it's a pleasant shock to see that it's done with a touch of class. Sleek dark tables and chairs dot the dimly lit dining room, while bright-red barbershop-style stools line the bar. The staff here is just as well dressed as the restaurant's contemporary tables, and is attentive and accommodating of each guest.
Appetizers range from tuna tartarki with sauteed shitake mushrooms, seaweed salad and blanched asparagus to a seafood gomae with blanched spinach, shrimp, octopus, king crab and sesame dressing, $10 and $9 respectively. Your own lips will be excited when you skim the restaurant's list of specialty maki. Favorites include the drunken maki with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, lump crabmeat, lettuce, masago and spicy mayo and the spicy bullet with golden fried spicy tuna, asparagus and unagi sauce.
Regular rolls range in price from $5 to $7 and include the good ol' standby California, fresh salmon, tuna and veggie rolls. Additionally, Lips offers a sashimi list and a selection of entrees including lamb rack, chicken teriyaki and Chilean sea bass.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Stacy Warden