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Bacon-wrapped tomatoes are a savory selection with a juicy bite.

Image: Megha Tejpal

When you mistake the happy hour menu for the regular dinner menu, you know you're at the right place. Kuu's new social hour offerings include 19 small plates, appropriately divided up into categories "Cold," "Grill," "Fry," "Green" and "Maki." It’s a welcome addition to the restaurant's already stellar line-up. The upscale destination, neatly tucked in a corner of Gateway Memorial City, has quickly become a favorite among Houstonians for its modern Japanese dishes, trendy space and sprawling patio.

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Creamy rock shrimp are $6 during social hour.

Image: Megha Tejpal

The social hour menu, served in the bar area Monday through Friday from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m., spotlights some of the restaurant's best dishes and cocktails. The $5 small plates of bacon-wrapped okra and tomatoes are a popular choice—because obviously, bacon. Cold selections include the Tuna Bite, a combination of ahi tuna, Texas orange, pistachio and avocado; the Kunseitaro, a dish of smoked salmon, Asian pear, and yuzu thyme; and the Bincho Carpaccio, albacore tuna with ginger-garlic soy and serrano pepper. All are $6 during social hour.

Kuu manages to satisfy even the hungriest of happy hour diners with a variety of hearty, hot dishes as well. The creamy rock shrimp are hard to resist with their tangy flavor and crispy bite. The fried calamari features Texas-sized squid served with spicy aioli. The fried chicken karaage is accompanied with Japanese pickles, giving it layers of texture and flavor. But as a self-proclaimed oyster-obsessed foodie, the Kaki Fry was my favorite. It’s a generous portion of fried oysters with kimchi miso, a steal at only $5. Sushi rolls are not to be forgotten. Kuu's social hour menu boasts four different rolls for $7 each.

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Enjoy a $10 sake flight on Friday Night Flights, one of Kuu's daily specials.

Image: Megha Tejpal

As impressive as the food is, what's happy hour without a few cocktails? The menu of spirited libations, wines by the glass and sake does not disappoint. The Osaka Mule with New Amsterdam vodka, sake and ginger beer and the Kuucumber Mint with vodka, cucumber, mint and cranberry are $7. The Gin Blossom, crafted with gin, agave, lemon and grapefruit, is $6.

Hot sake and signature house wines such as La Fiera Pinot Grigio and Emerald Bay Cabernet Sauvignon are $5. And for just the right pairing, try a Japanese beer. Asahi and Kirin Ichiban are each $4. Kuu's daily drink specials are an added bonus—each weeknight spotlights a different item.

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Pastry chef Karla Espinosa's Kuro To Shiro.

Image: Alice Levitt

The new dessert program, launched by Mexican pastry chef Karla Espinosa, is a tempting reason to stick around for something sweet after happy hour. The menu presents avant-garde desserts made with unique flavors in stunning presentations.

The Kuro To Shiro (Black & White) is just one example, pairing yuzu and black-sesame ganache with white-truffle ice cream, white chocolate snow, sesame glass and vanilla olive-oil gel. As much science as it is art, this dessert is a flawless reflection of Kuu's exquisite new menu.

Kuu, 947 Gessner Rd., kuurestaurant.com

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