Fish in the jailhouse

Jessica Lydick serves customers Hans Warfel and Veazie Schaupp at Tha Joint on a recent Friday.

Jessica Lydick serves customers Hans Warfel and Veazie Schaupp at Tha Joint on a recent Friday.

Photo By amy beck

Tha Joint is open Monday thru Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tha Joint

222 Los Altos Pkwy.
Sparks, NV 89436

(775) 626-8677

On the way to Tha Joint in Sparks, I initially thought we were going to a restaurant with a Rastafarian theme. Ha! Fooled you, stoners, we’re going to prison! Prison scares me. Rightly so, but I have almost irrational fears about it. I have toured two correctional centers and those were not times I went home and wrote about in my memory journal to be tucked into my hope chest. The TV show Oz gives me nightmares. I’m not going to lie; even the pound scene in Lady and the Tramp scares me.

Luckily in Tha Joint, the only actual prison similarity is the décor and not that “you’re going to get shivved” kind of feel. Tha Joint has a modern look with black walls and black and white pictures of various correctional facilities. The sushi bar even has bars on it, and the sushi chefs dress in white-and-black striped outfits.

While I’ve never eaten prison food, I feel confident in saying that Tha Joint’s food is better. Tha Joint offers sushi and Korean food, but on this trip, my friend Annette and I opted to go for the all-you-can-eat sushi lunch ($16.95 each). One thing I noticed right away was that there wasn’t a lunch/dinner menu where you can only get certain items at the lunch price. That drives me crazy, so I was glad to see Tha Joint didn’t do it. The all-you-can-eat price also includes appetizers and dessert.

Because the bar was packed, we sat at a table, but this didn’t mean we were neglected. Several people came by to check on us and to make sure our order was taken and our drinks were filled or to remove empty plates. Everyone was friendly and helpful, something I bet you don’t typically find in prison. We started off with an order of edamame, which arrived warm and lightly seasoned with sea salt. We then moved on to nigiri, and had some sake salmon, tuna and upside-down shrimp. Everything was brightly colored and tasted fresh, and the pieces were cut just right.

Tha Joint offers a lot of unusual rolls, such as Tha Bomb, which came with crystal shrimp, cucumber, seared tuna, barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce and green onions. The barbecue and buffalo sauces were mixed together and added as a dollop on the top of each piece. The sauce gives this a unique flavor, but I wish there had been less barbecue sauce because it overwhelmed the rest of the roll. Tha Sexy House Wife came with cooked scallops, pepper powder, salad greens, yellowtail and spicy sauce. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this roll, as I felt stupid just ordering it because of the name, but it really worked. The powder brought out the tuna, and the salad greens gave it a bit of a crunch.

My favorite roll was Tha Joint, which came with crystal shrimp, spicy crab, scallops, avocado, pepper powder and spicy sauce. This roll was really spicy, but the avocado and crystal shrimp gave it a nice balance. We had about three other rolls, and everything tasted fresh, which is important because as any prisoner will tell you, fresh fish is the way to go. Tha Joint has great sushi, interesting décor and friendly staff. So unlike most correctional institutions, this is one place where I want to go back.