It’s fantastically awesome to see that there’s so much *fun* going on in the kitchens around town. Truly, the restaurants are thriving these days are the ones that don’t take themselves too seriously and continue to step up their games by playing with flavors and techniques. They love it, we love it; it’s textbook win-win. One only need follow Randy Rucker (of Bootsie’s Café) or Carlos Rodriguez (of Vic & Anthony’s) on Twitter to see an endearing sort of kitchen camaraderie going on... It’s the kind that spills from the kitchen to the dining room via a freight train of fabulous food.
I wouldn’t have pegged Seth Siegel-Gardner and Manabu Horiuchi to have that sort of Be/Fri relationship, but the pair is making sweet, sweet gastronomy together at Kata Robata. Hori is a classically trained sushi chef from a small town outside Tokyo. Siegel-Gardner is a Houston native who has honed his cheffery at next-level places like the Fat Duck in London at C-House in New York. Each is a culinary genius in his own right—and now they’re combining their knowledge and packing a serious one-two punch for Houston diners to enjoy. For a limited time.
Below are some photos from my omakase experience at Kata Robata last night. All of these items are from the recently overhauled menu, which you should try as soon as is possible. Siegel-Gardner will be sharing the spotlight at Kata Robata for the next few months before possibly moving on, so the time is now.
Honey mussels from British Columbia. The one on the left has a light citron vinaigrette and char roe; the one on the right has a cucumber vinaigrette and ponzu. Simple, smooth, and totally flavorific.
House smoked salmon served with puffed salmon skin, thin sliced pickles, and a purple cabbage reduction. The puffed skin adds a nice measure of savory.
My favorite dish of the night: Grilled sushi rice topped with smooth uni and a rich togarashi lardo, served with a poached quail egg. Mega flavor fireworks with every bite.
A paper-thin slice of dehydrated short rib. Below is the rest of the dish: Perfectly hydrated Akaushi beef short ribs with broccoli stems and toasted nori yogurt. Amazing.
Barbecued unagi under a pile of powered bone marrow snow. Supine in the background is a slice of foie gras studded with stripes of unagi sauce. Pure decadence.
Fresh toro tar tar with wasabi vinaigrette, kumquat cream, and crunchy gobo chips. Simple and light, a beautiful mix of textures, served with just the right accoutrements.
Salmon and lightly fried softshell crab studded with Korean barbecue powder and togarashi. On the other side of the plate was the pork belly roll topped with hardboiled egg and a seedless slice of jalapeno.
Shockingly light puffs of doughnut: A coconut one lies in the foreground. The ones in the back are filled, one with sweet potato and the other with red bean paste. A stunning way to end a stunningly delicious meal.