It was a little over 10 years ago when I was introduced to my first sushi restaurant. I was in my teenage years, and visiting a college-aged sister—hip on all things new and interesting—who took me to try some spots in LA. A lifelong love affair was born, and I vowed to explore the sushi restaurants in Houston, too. Here are a few of my favorite local sushi restaurants—equally great for a lunch break or a dinner date.
Owned by a Japanese family, Nippon has held its own in the ever-changing Montrose area. It holds the honor of being one of Houston’s first sushi restaurants, and the decor certainly is a record of that. I go for the variety of high-quality sushi options and for happy hour. For a starter, I always get the Naoki roll.
This Pizza Hut turned sushi restaurant was remodeled last year and now has a more upscale atmosphere. It’s easy to miss when traveling down W. Holcombe. The owner, a trained sushi chef, works hard to pair friendly service with well-made sushi. Try the sashimi combination, which includes 23 pieces of tuna, salmon, tai, hamachi, escolar, white tuna, and tako. And for a good fusion roll, try the Houston Texans version, filled with kani, shrimp, cucumber, cream cheese, and mayo.
Hokkaido stands out among a competitive roster of Chinatown offerings. I appreciate the unlimited red bean dessert and miso soup, as well as the traditional rice dish katsudon, and rolls like the Shaggy Dog and the Tempura Roll. Food is cooked to order, so there tends to be a wait, but getting fresh sushi prepared by expert chefs makes it well worth the time. Hokkaido is known for its inexpensive prices—rolls run at about $7—and it’s a regular lunchtime option for workers in the area, filling up early. Thanks to an expansion, there’s now a back room available for extra guests.
You can’t go wrong at a restaurant whose name means “delicious” in English. This focus of this place isn’t the decor, but on getting sushi right. Patrons tend to be regulars thanks to the dedicated staff and the fact that it’s one of the few spots in town that happily offers custom sushi rolls. Try the croquette of fried cream corn and the baked crawfish hand roll.
Another family-owned spot found in unexpected crevice of the city, tucked next door to The Hobbit Cafe on Richmond Ave., this local favorite offers one of the city’s best happy hours. Most rolls are under $10 from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Make sure to try the seaweed salad and crabstick tempura before ordering crowd favorites like the tuna and volcano rolls.
The owners here get their fish flown straight from Japan, delivered to you in just about any form you’d like. The ramen is great, the rolls—especially the Tornado—are creative and delicious, and the restaurant is nice and quiet. It’s a popular place for lunch breaks, and there’s a private room in the back for hosting parties.