Hands On

What To Expect From Houston's New Michelin-Starred Sushi Chef

Omakase and highbrow sushi define Washington Avenue's elegant new Japanese restaurant.

By Alice Levitt August 14, 2017

Img 6300 aqhzl8

Grilled wagyu and cod in magnolia leaves

Image: Alice Levitt

Kukuri appeared on Houston's culinary horizon quietly, with a Facebook page low on information beyond some photos of renovations to its space, including giant sumi-e (Japanese brush painting) scrolls that would hang over the sushi bar. The restaurant began its soft opening late last week, finally presenting to the public its ace-in-the-hole, chef Shimao Ishikawa, who earned a Michelin star for New York City restaurant Jewel Bako. Chefs do not carry the Michelin designation, restaurants do, so without a Michelin guide in Houston, Kukuri will unfortunately never earn the stamp of approval.

He leads a team of seasoned chefs, serving a refined omakase menu that combines cooked dishes with sushi and sashimi (it's what the Michelin guide recommends you do when dining with Ishikawa), as well as a small roster of à la carte offerings that include basics like vegetables tempura, but also A5 wagyu in preparations that use myriad techniques in a single elegant dish. Drinks are limited to beer, wine and plum wine with fruit for now. A manager told me that the soft opening phase, which she admitted might mean some growing pains like slower service than can be expected later on, will likely last about a month.

Img 6301 igxng5

A selection of sashimi

Image: Alice Levitt

The August omakase menu is $150 and begins with an amuse-bouche of sesame-flavored tofu topped with uni and salmon roe. Other highlights include sashimi and sushi plates, marinated wagyu beef with cod wrapped in magnolia leaves with pickled carrot and lotus.

The $120 sushi and sashimi combo contains a scope of fish flown in from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo and not often seen in the United States. Many, like high-quality toro (fatty tuna) are presented on perfectly cooked, seasoned rice with wasabi. Others are marinated or lightly sauced. Zen Japanese Izakaya and Kata Robata have some new competition.

Show Comments