Name the type of sushi experience you’re craving, and we’ll tell you where to find it in Houston. Hankering for a hole-in-the-wall outlet run by a seasoned sushi chef that trained in Japan? Check and mate. (Spoiler alert: Head to Westheimer Road.) In the mood to dress up for a luxe dining experience, maybe splurge on an omakase or chef’s choice feast? Or what about an izakaya-style meal with friends, delicious rolls, and smooth drinks?
No matter what you’re looking for, H-Town’s got it—and more. Here are some of Houston’s essential sushi eateries, including everything from the award-winning showstoppers to the best-kept secrets. (Note that soon enough, eateries like Bosscat Kitchen and Libations and Katy’s Tobiuo Sushi & Bar will be rolling out their own renditions of Japanese fare with Ten Sushi + Cocktail Bar and Money Cat!)
The happy hour at Aka Sushi House can’t be missed. Literally. With roving specials Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. and a reverse happy hour from 9 o’clock to closing, Aka Sushi House is tailor-made for the cocktail-loving sushi connoisseur, the perpetually undecided orderer (with these specials, just get a little bit of everything!), or the newly-initiated (choose from a variety of classic and custom rolls, courtesy of the menu’s descriptions). Must-orders also include the pink lychee cocktail and the tofu cheesecake.
Makizushi meets vegan sensibilities at Blue Sushi Sake Grill, an innovative M-K-T Heights restaurant offering both traditional and imaginative maki, sashimi, and nigiri. This vibrant, neon lit eatery prides itself on serving “feel good sushi” through its Conscious Earth program, an initiative centering responsibly caught and humanely raised seafood and meats. For vegan maki, try the Unami nigiri (BBQ eggplant eel) or the Cowgirl or Shiitake To Me rolls. With more than 20 vegan options on the menu, and even a few mocktails, there’s something for everyone at Blue Sushi Sake Grill.
Embarking on an omakase journey quite literally means relinquishing your control, leaving the multicourse meal’s direction entirely in the hands of the chef, from the ingredients and preparation to the number of courses and even the storytelling behind it all. At Hidden Omakase, your trust is in the fully qualified hands of Chef Niki Vongthong, Uchi Houston’s first female sushi chef. Vongthong is known to seamlessly, if not stealthily, incorporate her Thai and Laotian roots into the omakase experience. With the entire meal taken care of, the only thing you need to remember is to BYOB.
Memorial and River Oaks
Izakaya Wa perfectly encapsulates izakaya dining, a casual, low-key style of Japanese dining known for light bites, like grilled or fried skewers, and drinks such as Kirin Ichiban, a type of Japanese light beer. It’s basically the Japanese version of tapas. Crowd favorites at Izakaya Wa include the gyu kushiyaki (beef tenderloin) skewers and the beef udon. Owned and operated by Akira Asano and Hajime Kubokawa, known as Chef Kubo, this is your Houston go-to for exploring traditional and Americanized Japanese fare.
For traditional and innovative maki, top-tier nigiri and sashimi, and Korean or French-infused dishes, look no further than Kanau Sushi. This airy, aesthetically pleasing Midtown restaurant offers sushi classics with a touch of flair, at times so subtle you just have to taste it to appreciate the culinary nuances. The brainchild of Mike Lim, formerly of Katy’s Tobiuo Sushi & Bar (also worth a stop!), Kanau Sushi’s truffle hon maguro (bluefin tuna), duck fat wagyu, and squid ink-battered fried octopus are just a few testaments to the restaurant’s exceptionality.
If there’s any sushi restaurant, any chef, credited with elevating Houston’s food scene, it’s Kata Robata’s Chef Manabu Horiuchi. Known affectionately as Chef Hori, the four-time James Beard Award nominee is credited with introducing H-Town to the ins and outs of Japanese cuisine. Try the Japanese Amberjack sashimi with foie gras, and keep an eye out for the ever-changing specials which include one-of-a-kind bites like salmon, quail egg, and Burgundy truffle, all rolled into one. Also on the menu: Kobe beef skewers, wagyu katsu sando, miso lobster macaroni and cheese, and green tea souffle cheesecake. Need we say more?
Tucked away in downtown’s Bravery Chef Hall, Kokoro has a cool, casual vibe that’s not trying too hard. And when you’re the brainchild of Uchi alum Daniel Lee and Patrick Pham, sushi and yakitori, Japanese grilled chicken, is pretty much second nature anyway. Kokoro’s nigiri selection is solid, with favorites like the fatty tuna nigiri (bluefin otoro nigiri and bluefin chutoro nigiri). And with a selection of maki (sushi rolls) and dishes like grilled shishito peppers and chicken fat rice, Kokoro has nearly everything to tantalize your taste buds, all in one small, mighty outpost. Eager for more? Check out Lee and Pham’s other concepts, Handies Douzo in the Heights and Washington Avenue’s Aiko.
At Kuu, Chef Adison Lee, who trained under master chef Nobu Matsuhisa (yes, that Nobu), artfully blends Japanese and modern cooking techniques to reimagine Japanese fine dining for a contemporary crowd. After all, this Gateway Memorial City eatery on Gessner Road literally means “the art of eating.” Here, you can enjoy modern Japanese fare in a stylish interior or outside on the restaurant’s ambling patio. Sample the Toyosu sashimi box, A5 wagyu nigiri or carpaccio, and the house smoked duck breast. Plus, with a weekday happy hour with specials starting at $4, what’s not to love?
The soft glow emanating from behind MF Sushi’s omakase counter is as light and airy as the delicate dishes pieced together at this lauded Museum District restaurant. Everything from the counter’s composition (planks of hinoki, a species of cypress believed to enhance the flavor of fish) to the carefully-concocted truffle aioli salmon, wagyu beef, and baked lobster tempura quietly screams true craftsmanship. We’ve come to expect nothing less from acclaimed sushi chef Chris Kinjo, who first brought MF Sushi to Houston in 2014. Since then, MF Sushi has blossomed into one of the city’s must-visit sushi restaurants. Book MF Sushi’s unparalleled omakase and you’ll understand why.
Rice Military and Mid-West
Founded in 1978, Miyako Japanese Restaurant is a longtime hub for sushi staples and fusion cuisine. Over the years, Miyako has garnered a loyal following devoted to offerings like the truffle salmon sashimi, 7 spice calamari, and the restaurant’s happy hour specials. Outside of sushi, fan favorites also include miso ramen soup, pan-fried or steamed gyoza or dumplings, and chicken egg rolls served with pineapple and sweet and sour sauces. In all, these Westheimer Road and Washington Avenue restaurants are reliable joints for a variety of Japanese-inspired eats.
One of Houston’s oldest sushi restaurants arrived on the scene in 1986, the longtime dream of chef-owner and Hokkaido native Yoshida Naomitsu. Nippon, which means “the sun’s origin” or simply Japan in Japanese, is a cozy, almost unassuming restaurant. But what else would you expect from a Montrose gem? Nippon is the kind of family-run restaurant where you can go on the regular to enjoy offerings like the lunchtime bento box, chirashi bowl, and salmon any way you like it—nigiri, sashimi, in a hand roll, or off the grill. It’s all here, and it’s all delicious.
Though some Houstonians, with our abundance of independent, locally-owned eateries, think twice about eating at chain restaurants, a night out at Nobu is a no-brainer. A joint venture by Iron Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro, this international chain restaurant is more than a name-dropping sensation (but hey, we get it). Try the black cod miso, wagyu dumplings, or omakase, the chef’s tasting menu, for the full Nobu experience.
Some of Houston’s most beloved eats are tucked away in random retail centers, discovered on the fly or by word of mouth. Oishii is more like an open secret. This Upper Kirby/Greenway Plaza restaurant, named after the Japanese word for delicious, anchors an otherwise run-of-the-mill commercial space, next door to a dry cleaner and a liquor and cigar store. Family-owned and operated, Oishii is a one-stop sushi spot for classics like sashimi, tempura, and soba noodle dishes. Folks love Oishii for its blend of quality, flavor, and value. And with happy hour specials like BOGO $5 appetizers, Oishii may be one of the best Houston restaurants to head to when 5 o’clock rolls around.
Montrose, Southside Place, Sugar Land, and Tanglewood
Osaka is a neighborhood eatery beloved for its relaxing atmosphere and variety of eats, including sushi, noodles, and donburi, or Japanese rice bowls. With four locations throughout the Greater Houston region, Osaka is giving the people what they want—consistently tasty sushi rolls, a wide range of light bites and starters, and even a complimentary appetizer and dessert. Plus, with ample portion sizes, Osaka may well be one of the most underrated sushi places around.
Entering Sasaki feels like being let into one of the city’s best kept secrets. Located in a run-of-the-mill Westheimer strip mall, Sasaki is a no-frills eatery big on simplicity and tradition. Established in 1982, Chef Toda-san has been quietly serving up some of the best sushi around at this Japanese steakhouse and sushi restaurant. Don’t miss the unagi (eel), salmon sashimi, and tamago, Japanese rolled omelet. Leave your expectations of what sushi is supposed to be and enjoy what it is at Sasaki, a longtime fixture beloved for its authenticity.
Combine Gulf Coast flair with Japanese cuisine and you’ll get Shun Japanese Kitchen. The brainchild of Naoki Yoshida, a second-generation Japanese American and son of Nippon’s Yoshida Naomitsu, Shun Japanese Kitchen is like the more modern, trendy version of the restaurant where Naoki first learned the ins and outs of cooking. Here, Yoshida combines elements of his Japanese culinary skills with his Bayou City upbringing, resulting in dishes like mole-filled gyoza (dumplings) and chili curry marinated karaage (Japanese fried chicken).
Connected to the family of restaurants that includes Kata Robata and Izakaya, Soma Sushi is a must-try in Houston’s sushi scene. Led by Chef Omi Higa, formerly of Kata Robata and Teppay, this Washington Avenue restaurant is upscale yet approachable. Crowd favorites include the pan seared salmon, Creamy Mermaid roll, and pretty much anything from the specialty ramen selection. For those who want to dip their toes into the world of omakase dining, Soma Sushi also offers an “omakase introduction.” This six-course tasting menu is about half of the price of some of the premier omakase experiences while still providing a taste of sushi essentials.
A longtime fixture at Dairy Ashford and Memorial, Sushi Jin is one of the city’s uncharted gems. Founded by Bill Nakanishi, who once owned a seafood importing company, Sushi Jin’s connection to culture and quality are on display throughout the restaurant. First, there’s the oshibori. This warm hand towel is a traditional piece of Japanese hospitality culture and a proud fixture at Sushi Jin. Then, there’s the tatami room, a traditional dining room that serves as a private gathering space. And last but not least, the food. With fish flown in straight from Japan, Sushi Jin’s got you covered, from the maki rolls we know and love to out of the box eats like sea urchin.
The devotees queued outside Bellaire Boulevard’s Sushi Miyagi know what’s up. This under-the-radar Asiatown gem runs on limited hours, but that’s by design. A true mom-and-pop shop, Sushi Miyagi has been owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Miyagi for about 15 years and counting. The 20-seat restaurant located at 10600 Bellaire Blvd. is a no-frills kind of joint; expect a wait if you’re heading there for lunch or dinner. Rest assured that your patience will be rewarded once you have a bite of beloved dishes like the crunchy salmon bowl, the spicy chopped scallop roll, or the chirashi bowl.
Immerse yourself in Houston’s sushi scene long enough and you’ll hear whispers about Teppay, a Japanese restaurant near Westheimer and Voss with a loyal following and the recommendation of local sushi chefs and connoisseurs alike (yup, The Sushi Club of Houston!). Longtime restaurant goers can’t get enough of Teppay’s fresh wasabi, sake ( salmon), and the selection beyond sushi staples, like cold soba noodles or classic tonkotsu ramen. For an even more intimate meal, reserve the tatami private room for the full shoes-off experience.
For Houston sushi lovers, and even Texas sushi stans at large, Uchi needs no introduction. With its James Beard Award ties, consistently delicious morsels, and picture perfect plating in a warm, yet elevated space, Uchi has cemented its place in Houston’s sushi stratosphere. Make reservations and save your pennies for Uchi’s omakase to experience what some have described as a culinary journey. And be sure to try the brussel sprouts, walu walu (escolar), and the fried milk for dessert. Eager for more? Add Uchiko, Uchi’s sister restaurant in Uptown, to your list.
Think of Ume Sushi as the sibling restaurant to the much-beloved MF Sushi. In this light, airy space, MF Sushi’s Chris Kinjo again shows attention to detail and mastery of Japanese fare, with a few subtle twists. With MF Sushi as its muse, you know the results will be delicious. Opt for Ume Sushi’s chef’s choice nigiri for a signature sampling, or sit at the sushi bar for an immersive experience that feels like a choose your own sushi adventure with a touch of chef’s choice.
Established in 2004, Uptown Sushi is a Japanese fusion and sushi restaurant located in Uptown/Galleria. Folks love it for the atmosphere and stay for specialties like seared peppercorn tuna, the Lickety Split roll, and Kobe beef cubes, crispy rice cakes topped with ground Kobe beef, quail egg, and black pepper soy glaze. Oh, and don’t miss the dynamite shrimp and the lychee martini. It may be difficult to go off the beaten path in one of the city’s trendiest areas, but give it a shot: order Uptown Sushi’s chicken wings. You’ll thank us later.
While sushi and ramen are often top of mind when it comes to Japanese cuisine, Zen Japanese Izakaya, in its own quiet, yet authoritative way, is changing that. Don’t misunderstand us, you’ll want to try—even be tempted to try—staples like nigiri and sashimi at Zen, a Montrose restaurant that prides itself on serving up dishes you’d often find in Japan (read: authentic). But don’t miss out on other vital aspects of Japanese cuisine, like curry, karaage, or chirashi. Plus, the restaurant’s bento box lunches can’t be beat, replete with several samplings of sashimi and sides of miso soup and rice.
At 5Kinokawa, the medium is the message. From the seafood sourced directly from Japan’s Toyosu Market and the backstory behind each dish to the significance of the handcrafted bar upon which the sushi is served, everything in this Heights omakase restaurant offers substance, significance. That’s by Chef Billy Kin’s design. Genuine craftsmanship is at the core of everything at 5Kinokawa, with one-of-a-kind rotating items offering specialties like Japanese river crab, wagyu nigiri, and uni (sea urchin) pasta. At 5Kinokawa, you’ll be mesmerized by the flavors and the stories behind this immersive, intimate omakase experience.