IN HOUSTON, THERE NOW EXISTS a young generation of chefs skilled in Japanese culinary techniques yet happy to stray from convention. Sit down for an omakase dinner helmed by Mike Lim at Tobiuo Sushi & Bar, or order up some sashimi from Naoki Yoshida at Shun Japanese Kitchen—these pros were born to make noise, helping to lead a fresh local revival of Nippon cuisine.
But before them—before izakayas came to town and Roka Akor gilded up the experience—there was Manabu Horiuchi. Chef Hori, as we know him, has been the steady presence in a strip center at the corner of Richmond and Kirby. Kata Robata remains a force in Houston's food scene, both a godfather and willing participant in the movement to elevate Japanese food while infusing it with local flash.
As Kata celebrates its 10-year anniversary, we look back at 10 reasons the restaurant has remained a vital part of the city's culinary DNA.
1. It Has Led The Charge
2. The Staff Stays
3. A Convenient, Affordable Lunch
Kata might be a place to visit to celebrate that job promotion. Maybe it's even an anniversary spot. It's definitely a date night. But just as much, Kata is that place you can visit for a quick bento box lunch. With most priced at fewer than $20, the bentos at Kata remain good mid-day deals, and they're so much better and healthier than what you're currently eating.
4. It's The Pasta (Seriously)
With a cheese sauce concocted of Parmesan, Marieke Gouda and Veldhuizen cheddar mixed with panko and miso, this is not your ordinary mac-and-cheese. Available only on the dinner menu, for $19, this dish makes a great starter to share or an entrée for one.
5. They Can't Stay Away
6. You Never Know What's Coming
7. The Omakase Is a Must
Sitting at chef Manabu Horiuchi’s counter and ordering the omakase—Japanese for “I’ll leave it to you”—is an experience that every serious food-lover should have at least once. Chef Hori-san will dazzle you with whatever is freshest that day and create a personalized menu that will make buying grocery-store sushi rolls an incredibly tough proposition in the future.