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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Japanese, Modern
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 11:30am–3:00pm
Mon–Thu 4:00pm–10:30pm
Fri 11:30am–3:00pm
Fri 4:00pm–11:00pm
Sat noon–11:00pm
Sun noon–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining, Wi-Fi
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Upper Kirby
3600 Kirby Dr.
Houston, TX
(713) 526-8858
Kata Robata
Domo arigato, Kata Robata

Although it belongs to a restaurant group (that also owns sushi hotspots Soma and Azuma), Kata Robata behaves as if it were a chef-owned venture. It is, after all, helmed by one of Houston’s most respected Japanese masters. But it’s the contributions of the inspired and talented kitchen as a whole that’s rocketed Kata Robata into a world-class ranking. To get the real point, order omakase; each dish in the chef’s tasting menu is a study in balance. Even if a description flirts with disaster, the components are deftly reined in to the surprise and delight of even jaded diners. Lately, the traditional oak-burning robata grill has featured more authentic meats than it did in its chickeny beginnings: mackerel and squid are standouts.

On and on the pleasures come: slow-poached eggs with smoked gnocchi and black garlic sausage; oak-grilled yellowtail with Brussels sprouts and grapefruit emulsion. Nigiri garnishes are intended to bring out each fish’s unique flavor, and the rice is shorter grained and well seasoned. Don’t touch the soy sauce—you’re paying for art; art, incidentally, goes superbly with some of the cold sakes on this list. The space here is far too minimalist-chic to be confused with a trashy sake-bomb circus, and the brown-focused décor allows you to concentrate on the carefully made and brilliantly conceived food. It’s a confident move you won’t find in many other restaurants—this group’s or otherwise.

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