In journalism, the general rule is "three is a trend." If that's the case, Houston is two-thirds of the way toward something that I hope very much becomes a mania. Izakaya in Midtown has been serving its Japanese fusion brunch, replete with tonkatsu croque monsieur, for a year. Last weekend, the Heights' Ka Sushi debuted its own daytime repast (the restaurant doesn't serve lunch) with a Saturday-and-Sunday brunch. And now I'm crossing my fingers that a third will come along to follow suit.
But until then, I have no complaints about trying to eat my way through Ka's menu. First, there are the mimosas, flavored with strawberry or pomegranate for those eschewing basic orange. A soup and salad section of the menu leans toward the lunch side of brunch with grilled cheese and red cabbage soup, Thai beef salad, avocado-shrimp salad with Japanese flavors and balsamic-dressed berry salad.
I ordered the Avo Baked, a smart paleo Toad in the Hole. A small avocado was halved and filled on each side with an egg and bacon, then baked and topped with furikake. The seaweed, sesame and chile seasoning woke up what could otherwise be a bland, if clever, breakfast dish. The avocado was cooked soft and the egg yolk broke easily, allowing the two to combine seamlessly.
Instagram addicts may already be aware of Japanese pancakes, the tall, fluffy alternative to our comparatively thin, dense version. Ka's take on the pastry may be Houston's first, but it's anything but basic. The lightly sweet hotcakes are served with crispy pork wings (tiny pieces of shank cut from the fibula), berries and a pair of syrups. My server recommended pouring the plain maple syrup on the pancakes and accompanying the pork with spicy, garlicky Sriracha syrup. I ended up doing both that and the reverse.
The rest of the dishes on the brunch menu hop between the Asian-inflected (think five-spice French toast) and simply tasty, like eggs Benedict with smoked salmon on Texas toast.
But my appetite is whetted for more Japanese brunch. Whoever next steps up to serve it will make it a trend and make me very happy.