Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata—known to friends and admirers as Chef Hori—has a second home. The James Beard–nominated chef now appears regularly in a spacious, newly opened Zen-meets-modern dining room that serves as an impressive stage for his talent. Here, familiar Japanese fare co-exists with eclectic and creative dishes, and drama is often a key ingredient. House-smoked salmon, for instance, is served under a smoke-filled glass dome along with avocado, toasts, and yuzu foam. A cook-it-yourself dish involves buttery mushrooms and rice and a hot stone. There are nods to notable local ingredients like Houston Dairymaids cheese, which accompanies the miso- and sake-marinated roasted lobster. Classicists will be happy to find traditional dishes like pork-and-shrimp-stuffed shumai dumplings with chile oil. They will also approve the stunning variety of pristine sushi and sashimi, which may well have left Japan’s famed Tsukiji fish market only 20 hours earlier. Fans of rolls can indulge in the accurately named Decadent Roll, layered with snowy crab, tuna, and cucumber (fresh-grated wasabi alongside). And of course, this being Texas, there are five magnificent Japanese Wagyu beef offerings. Our choice—from top-of-the-line Kagoshima prefecture—was cooked tableside, shabu-style, and served with sesame sauce and ponzu. As a side, we added garlicky-sweet chilled tomato somen noodles. For the finale, if you have at least three friends at your table (or are very, very hungry), order the spectacular shaved ice: kakigori. The nearest comparison is a giant snow cone, and it comes in a variety of flavors. Our “Rainbow” choice featured strawberries, blueberries, and strawberry ice cream.
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Exceptional traditional and creative Japanese dishes from a master chef.