It is twelve months later than anticipated, and under various constraints, but the world’s sporting elite have gathered in Tokyo to celebrate the very best of global athleticism.
The torch has been lit.
The games have begun.
And Team USA continue to add to their medal haul.
‘U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!’
So, in homage to this month’s Games and their hosting nation, we are sharing some of our favorite Japanese restaurants in H-Town and the surrounding areas.
There is one word on discerning palates. And that is Uchi. A collective hit with Houston Moms, and well, everyone, this Austin import has garnered a legion of faithful patrons who return, and return again, for some of the best Japanese food going.
You really can’t order wrong, but insiders suggest trying the machi cure and yokai berry from the cool tastings, the kinoko nabe from the hot tastings, the karaage and Brussels sprouts from the agemono section of the menu, and to finish things off on a sweet note, the very moreish jasmine cream.
And of course, lest we forget the Uchi happy hour. 4pm to 6pm. Two menus (one vegetarian), with great value eats and drink options aplenty.
Nobu (The Galleria)
Miso-marinated black cod. Everyone should taste it at least once in their lifetime.
Yes, Nobu Houston may be one of many, but there’s a reason why this stalwart has become a global fixture and the epitome of Japanese fine dining.
Go to Nobu and you know that you are investing in an evening that will elicit lots of ‘mmms’ and ‘ahhss’ from your table. Their rock shrimp tempura, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, and king crab tempura continue to be ‘golden’ mainstays on the menu, but look out for their ‘Nobu Now’ dishes, which are based on locality.
Happy hour, meanwhile, is available daily from 6-7pm in the bar and lounge.
Hailing from Uchi, chef-owner Sherman Yeung brings a truly delicious and innovative menu of sushi, Japanese small plates and craft cocktails to Tobiuo. And the people of Katy and beyond, sure are grateful for it.
From hot (Wagyu hot stone, Chilean sea bass, chicken udon) to some beautifully delicate cold dishes (sake ginger, hamachi kosho), you’ll also find robata options, along with sushi, sashimi and speciality maki.
The tasting menu, meanwhile, includes a collection of signature dishes from the kitchen and sushi bar, plus dessert.
Social hour kicks-off every day from 3pm to 6pm and encompasses sushi, rolls, small plates, dessert, cocktails, sake and other beverages.
Kata Robato (Upper Kirby)
This accolade-collecting, sushi and Japanese tapas restaurant, located near the crossroads of Highway 59 and Kirby, prides itself on offering up some of the freshest, highest quality fish there is, by flying it in from Japan multiple times a week.
With this in mind, Kata Robato boasts daily specials too, like five-hour braised honey garlic pork ribs, Philly Cheesesteak Sando, and chocolate bread pudding ala’ Japanese-style, plus much more.
From the main menu, Houston Moms’ contributor Vicky Yip swears by the Texas Kobe beef skewers – slow cooked for 72-hours sous vide and then topped with teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. Mmmmmmm.
Or, why indeed not plump for both, and make a reservation for omakase – the chef’s tasting menu, inclusive of daily specials and Kata Robata classics.
Uni (The Woodlands)
Well, Uni, you had us at ‘Wednesdaytini’ and your $6 martinis. Spanning a glorious six-hour period from 4pm to 10pm (best book that Uber), and with no fewer than fourteen to choose from (cucumber, sour apple, lychee, Key lime and a white chocolate ‘Mount Fuji’ among them), Uni’s bar is the place to go, come hump day.
Keeping the revelry going into the weekend, the restaurant also hosts a Sunday Funday, which has lots of yummy quick bites, rolls, appetizers, cocktails, and shots.
Hellllllllo, sake bombs.
With a commitment to serving the freshest seasonal ingredients of the Texas state and Japanese Toyosu market (fish is delivered within twenty-four hours of catch), Blōōfin embraces a contemporary edomae-sushi approach, with great effect.
Highlighting their focus on seasonal produce, their signature dishes change monthly. For example, in July, the menu featured endo maki and sake crudo – two beautifully refreshing dishes that were specifically curated for the hot Texan summer.
The menu is packed full of deliciousness, and they also offer Ishiyaki.
Heated to a scorching 240 degrees, a hot lava stone is brought to your table to cook your own wagyu beef, scallops etc, in what is a definite talking point of an evening.
Blōōfin social hour runs from Monday to Thursday, 5pm to 6:30pm, and Friday and Saturday 3pm to 6:30pm, with $5 cocktails and $3 for a small hot sake, plus much more enticing drinks and food.
The humble supermarket sushi can be a bit hit or miss, however, we’ve found HEB – specifically Market Street, the Woodlands, to be uber fresh. The sushi station often has a small crowd of customers perusing – a good sign, if any, of its merit. Encased in a slice of avocado and coated with ‘special’ sauce, the San Antonio roll gets our vote, as does their spicy salmon offering. D-e-l-i-s-h.
What’s your favorite local Japanese haunt and go-to dishes? Let us know!