Home > Eating, North America, The South > Houston Sushi: Kata Robata (Mar. 2013)

Houston Sushi: Kata Robata (Mar. 2013)

Author: Victor
Restaurant: Kata Robata
Exec Chef: Manabu Horiuchi
Website: http://katarobata.com/

Date: March 22, 2013

Notes:

Kata Robata is the second Japanese restaurant that I was looking to check out in Houston. (The first was Uchi.) The menu has some fantastic and exciting options. There were lots of different flavor combinations that I wanted to try out, so I ended up ordering a massive amount of food… once again haha.

This is definitely a restaurant that I’d go back to again, if only to check out the hot and cold dishes. The sushi was about average, and I don’t think I’d come back for the sushi (either the rolls or the nigiri), especially when I can just go to Uchi. Instead, check out the hot dishes, cold dishes, and the robata items!

The lighting for the tables at the restaurant was horrible, so a lot of the pics aren’t great. I used a flashlight app on my friend’s iPhone as background lighting for some of them. I guess the restaurant is meant to be all classy and romantic haha.

Nigiri analysis:

Rice:
The rice was a bit too cold. It stuck together really well, but it wasn’t fluffy at all. The rice definitely would have been a lot better if it were softer. Also, I personally thought that there was too much rice for each piece! The amount of rice made it feel like we were at an AYCE restaurant.

Fish:
The fish seemed merely average. We sat at a table, though, and not at the sushi bar. Also, all the sushi pieces came out on one plate, which means that many of the sushi pieces were just sitting there for a good amount of time…

Overall:
I really think I’d have to try the sushi at the sushi bar. The pieces tasted average, but perhaps eating at the sushi bar would have made for a much better experience. Or maybe if they served the sushi piece by piece… A lot of the pieces tasted like sushi pieces that were sitting around for a few minutes :(. Anyway, the non-sushi dishes were FAR better—they were actually excellent!

Food:

Appetizer 1:
Uni Chawanmushi
Japanese-style egg custard with fresh uni, chicken, shrimp, shiitake mushroom, and gingko nut

2 A1 Uni Chawanmushi

Appetizer 2:
Hawaiian Amberjack Sashimi with Foie Gras
with tonic 05, lime juice, olive oil, hazelnuts, and chives

(The amberjack was marinated in lime juice, olive oil, and chives. The foie gras was topped with pea shoots and roasted hazelnuts, and there was also bourbon reduction at the bottom.)

3 A2 Amberjack

This dish was way too fatty for my tastes. I really enjoyed the amberjack sashimi, but adding the foie gras, while really delicious, was too much for me.

Appetizer 3:
Kata’s Fresh Catch Ceviche
Leche de tigre, pickled cucumber, peanuts, seasonal fruit purée, and taro chips

4 A3 Ceviche

This was light and flavorful, and it was really enjoyable to eat. There were a lot of different flavors being mixed together.

Appetizer 4:
72-hour Slow-cooked Texas Wagyu Beef Skewer

(Basically, they sous-vide the wagyu at 70° Celsius for 72 hours.)

5A A4 Wagyu Skewer

This was so incredibly good. It wasn’t really creative or anything, but it was just a pure focus on extracting as much flavor as possible from something. And it was glorious. There was fat spread throughout the entire piece, and it was soft, tender, juicy, flavorful, and even CREAMY. I’m glad I only had that stick to eat—I wouldn’t be able to resist eating a LOT of those…

Appetizer 5:
“Kakuni” Pork Belly with 60° Egg
Braised pork belly slow-cooked (sous-vide) for 24 hours with spinach and a 60° egg (sous-vide for about an hour)

6 A5 Pork Belly and Egg

I have got to start playing around with eggs sous-vide more—must figure out how to make eggs like that one!

Appetizer 6:
Octopus Crudo
with Hawaiian volcanic salt, shimeji mushroom, and micro cilantro

7 A6 Octopus Crudo

My friend thought this was the best octopus he’s ever had. It was ridiculously soft and tender, and it definitely didn’t have the usual texture of octopus. I still like the octopodes I had at Jungsik and Daniel more, though!

Appetizer 7:
Hamachi Kama (yellowtail collar)

8A A7 Hamachi Kama

Appetizer 8:
Pan-seared U-10 Scallop
with shiitake and shimeji mushrooms, pickled mustard seed, and zabaione foam

9A A8 U-10 Scallop

(Siiiigh, bad lighting and the subsequent use of flash make me sad sometimes.)

Appetizer 9:
72-hour Grilled Texas Wagyu Beef Tongue
with tomato salad, shiso chimichurri, and red onion

10 A9 Wagyu Beef Tongue

Roll 1:
Tropical Spicy Tuna
Spicy tuna, salmon, mango, avocado, tobiko, and wasabi vinaigrette

11 R1 Tropical Spicy Tuna

Ehh, I could have lived without this. It was a solid spicy tuna roll with relatively-high–quality ingredients.

Roll 2:
Texas Hamachi
Yellowtail, spicy tuna, freshwater eel, fried shrimp, yuzu juice, jalapenos, and sea salt

12A R2 Texas Hamachi

Aaaaand this is why I kind of don’t get rolls. This one had way too many ingredients; it was hard to tell which was which or how each ingredient was…

Roll 3:
Toro & Short Rib
Toro tartare, braised short ribs, tomato powder, and ponzu olive oil

13A R3 Toro and Short Rib

This roll tasted wonderfully fatty, even though I don’t think it was THAT fatty. I think the toro helped offset the short rib. It was a really good roll, but it wasn’t amazing.

Sushi:

1. Foie gras and scallop

14 S1 Foie Gras and Scallop

This is supposed to be one of Chef Hori’s famous combinations, and I can see why—the scallop and foie gras worked together wonderfully to add even more decadence (and calories!) to my short Houston trip! Both were rich and flavorful by themselves, and the rice helped to add some texture and prevent the whole thing from being TOO rich for my taste.

Bottom row (right to left):
2. Akami (lean tuna)
3. Hamachi (yellowtail)
4. Otoro (fatty tuna)
Top row (right to left):
5. Tarabagani (Alaskan king crab)
6. Mategai (live razor clam)
7. Nova Scotia Ocean trout

19 S2-S7

Top row (right to left):
7. Nova Scotia ocean trout
8. Madai (snapper)
9. Peppercorn sake (salmon)
10. Kohada (marinated Japanese gizzard shad)
Bottom row (right to left):
11. Saba (mackerel) with kombu
12. Bincho maguro (seared white tuna)
13. Amaebi (sweet shrimp)

20 S7-S13

14. Unagi (freshwater eel)

21 S14 Unagi

I usually don’t like using pics taken with flash, but… the non-flash version was far worse. Trust me.

15. Anago (saltwater eel) with yuzu and sea salt

22 S15 Anago

Fried Shrimp Head

(It came with the amaebi!)

23 Fried Shrimp Head

This came with the amaebi (sweet shrimp). It was solid and tasted great—I generally always like fried shrimp heads hahaha.

16. Tamago (egg)

24 S16 Tamago

Tamago’s supposed to be served cold, but Chef Hori’s take on it was very warm and fresh! I actually think I prefer tamago warm now…

  1. March 24, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    The egg (I’m guessing here, not having eaten your specific one, but being familiar with the technique) is really simple technique and isn’t exactly sous vide, as it isn’t cooked under pressure. You need a controlled water bath at 63 degrees, for 35 minutes. Cooked with shell on, no need to vacuum seal. Make sure it is a good quality egg and not too small. Some people cook at slightly less temperature, I’ve seen 62 degrees, 35 minutes is pretty standard. Small eggs take less time. Excellent wat to have it.

    • March 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Oh, I asked the waitress because I was curious about how long they cooked it for, and she mentioned that they used a sous vide machine for the egg.

      That’s interesting to know, though, and I’ll keep that in mind in the future! Thanks!

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