Given that this city sits right next to the huge sushi storehouse that some call “the Gulf,” it’s no surprise that there are a lot of raw seafood slingers in town. But with all of the sushi options out there, how does one decide which spots are the real deal? Well, going to these nine places is a good start:
Sushi traditionalists be warned: this may not be the place for you. Everyone else that loves things like razor sharp cuts of sushi and sashimi and funky, outside-the-box adornments (which are usually edible, too), this is your spot. Dishes range from the playfully sweet & smoky machi cure, to katsu pork belly makimono, and foie nigiri.
Despite what we’ve been led to believe, sushi is less about the fish and more about the rice. Proper attention to details like temperature, packing, and vinegar-flavor are just as important as that buttery toro you love so much. And no one pays more attention to detail than the brilliant Chef Manabu Horiuchi, aka Hori-san. Trust Hori-san to lead you through all kinds of mind-numbing deliciousness with every flawlessly executed piece.
When Houston’s hottest sushi spot closed out of nowhere in 2014, the city let out a collective, “Awwww nawwwww, bro.” Thankfully, “Magic Fingers” -- also known by his human name, Chef Chris Kinjo -- kept his knives sharp and returned with an ever more badass version of a classically Japanese restaurant. Any umami-filled seat in Kinjo’s house is an excellent one, but hit the 12-seat sushi bar for the chef’s omakase if you want to savor the showy entertainment, course after impeccable course.
Not to be confused with the newly opened Izakaya in Midtown, this barely one-year-old Japanese tapas bar is a more than worthy sushi destination. That’s thanks to well-vinegared sticky rice and nice selection of perfectly cut fish from notable sushi chef Hajime Kubokawa (formerly of Kubo’s) and partner Akira Asano. Hit the intimate five-seat sushi bar for raw-stuffs and Japanese skewers with an all-star track record.
With Nobu-trained Chef Adison Lee at the helm, this sultry hotspot is giving big guns like Uchi and Kata Robata a run for its money. Lee’s impressively delicate sushi and sashimi is locally and seasonally inspired, thanks to their drive to reach new levels of greatness and a handy in-house forager. Eat the exquisite cuts and rolls alongside a sturdy lineup of inspired takes on Japanese classics and some sake.
You’ll find some not-so-authentic (albeit pretty tasty) rolls taking up some real estate on the menu of this unassuming strip mall haunt, but that doesn’t mean that Miyagi -- the man behind the knife -- doesn’t have some seriously elite skills. One taste of his meticulously cut usu-zukuri and you’ll see the mom and pop shop deserves a closer look.
While he gets things together for an upcoming project, rising star Chef Jason Liao -- formerly of the highly touted but now closed Preview Modern Seafood in Sugar Land -- signed on to help man the kitchen at this popular sushi spot. That means the time to get a taste of the magic that happens when Co-Chef Mike Tran’s noteworthy techniques and sustainable approach mix with Liao’s creative flare is NOW (or more specifically, during happy hour when the good stuff is a steal).
Japanese owned and operated for 25+ years, this no-frills haunt is as authentic as it gets. Expect buttery-as-all-hell uni alongside and beautifully-prepared hamachi alongside solid specialty rolls in an unassuming atmosphere.
Just like the great Taylor Swift, this OG spot founded by Yoichi 'Yogi' Ueno over 14 years ago proves that great quality and service “never go out of style."* Forget the hip and trendy; Chef Takizawa’s old school menu of Japanese classics is backed by superb technique and seasonal flavors that keeps Kubo’s name high on the Houston’s sushi hit list. *Our apologies if you now have that song stuck in your head (Just taaaake meeee hoooome!!).
1. Uchi904 Westheimer Rd, Houston
2. Kata Robata3600 Kirby Dr, Houston
3. MF Sushi5887 Westheimer Rd, Houston
4. Izakaya Wa12665 Memorial Dr Ste A, Houston
5. Kuu Restaurant947 Gessner Rd, Houston
6. Sushi Miyagi10600 Bellaire Blvd #115, Houston
7. Aka Sushi House2390 W Alabama St, Houston
8. Nipon4464 Montrose Blvd, Houston
9. Kubo's Sushi Bar & Grill2414 University Blvd, Houston
Located in Montrose, from acclaimed Austin Chef Tyson Cole, Uchi is Houston’s outpost of the Austin-based Japanese hot spot. The intimate, upscale restaurant is constantly bustling with sushi- and sake-craving diners, and because reservations are hard to come by, be prepared to wait for a taste of the inventive Japanese cuisine. Or, beat the crowd and arrive early for their daily Sake Social, where for an hour and a half, you can sample the highlights of the menu, accompanied by copious amounts of sake (or beer, or wine), at a fraction of the cost.
Kata Robata is Houston’s preeminent sushi and Japanese tapas restaurant, featuring a signature menu from Executive Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchu. On offer is a creative array of Japanese fare inflected with French flavors, evident in dishes like foie gras and duck chawanmushi -- a Japanese-style egg custard -- and miso lobster mac and cheese. The menu’s crown jewel is its 72-hour slow-cooked Texas Kobe beef skewer, which is impeccably succulent and tender. Finally, you’ll want to take advantage of Kata Robata’s sushi offerings; create endless permutations of seafood like spicy chopped scallop, New Zealand king salmon, fatty tuna, and others.
Modern, woodsy interiors set a fresh scene for fine sushi consumption in the Museum District. It is the revival restaurant of Chef Chris Kinjo, affectionately known as “Magic Fingers", who shut down his former restaurant to come back with this badass version. If you're dining alone, reserve a seat at their 12-seat sushi bar where you can experience an umami-filled omakase alongside showy entertainment, course after impeccable course.
Their Japanese skewers will be your new favorite food in no time.
With Nobu-trained chef Adison Lee manning the kitchen, this vibrant and modern Japanese establishment is a worthy opponent to big guns like Uchi and Kata Robata. A sturdy roster of hot and cold dishes and inventive takes on sushi, most of which are locally and seasonally inspired (word is they even have a designated forager), has helped to make that happen. Get dramatically plated uni-crusted king crab over oyster mushrooms with uni custard and key lime; and kimchi tuna and lobster with bits of asian pear, kimchi and lotus chips peeking throughout; alongside Lee’s impressively delicate sushi.
This mom and pop sushi shop is a staple in Chinatown.
This is one of Houston's most popular sushi spots.
This sushi spot has been in business for over 25 years, and is loved by all locals.