2. Kata Robata
There is no Houston restaurant that inspires such sharp anticipation in me as this elevated sushi bar where chef Manabu Horiuchi (“Hori-san” to his acolytes) plies his impeccable trade. His carefully sourced, beautifully handled fish and shellfish rival the best anywhere, from shiny-skinned mackerel to crunchy giant clam. The gently sticky vinegared rice and nigiri sushi construction stay right on point, and the sashimi platter is a reliable thrill. Not to mention that up-and-coming chef Mark Gabriel Medina handles the hot foods, including the charcoal-fired robata items, with growing aplomb. (Yes, he has kept the smart modernist legacy of consulting chef Seth Siegel Gardner alive.) Experience the spectrum by dining early in the week, sitting at the sushi bar and requesting an omakase tasting chosen by the chefs. The astonishments just keep coming. A curl of sea urchin on a “cracker” made of whole infant sardine-lings called shirasu. A cool trapezoid of squid nigiri glowing pale green from an underlying shiso leaf. A trough of bone marrow crusted in miso-laced panko and enriched with bonito flakes, luminous grains of pickled mustard seeds picking up the flavors. Even the cocktail, sake and wine program (now with Gruner Veltliner!) have found their stride. Don’t expect fine-dining service. Do expect very fine dining indeed.
Entree price range: $$-$$$
Where: 3600 Kirby Dr.
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