The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Sushi
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
My own personal version of heaven, served up at our No. 1 pick.
Houston has two world-class sushi restaurants headed its way in 2012: Uchi, to open in the old Felix space at Montrose and Westheimer, and Katsuya by Starck, which will become another tenant in the tony West Ave development. Our sushi landscape will undoubtedly change dramatically with these two heavy-hitters, which could render this entire list moot shortly.
But for now, here are our top picks for when you get the raw fish jones.
Note: Many entries are excerpted from previous Best of Houston® entries, as many previous award winners have maintained the same standards of quality that garnered them awards in the first place.
Oishii, pre-facelift, is the perfect spot for reliable yet inexpensive sushi.
In a city filled with swanky, upscale sushi restaurants serving up overpriced, Americanized fare, Oishii is a breath of fresh air. You won't find any pretentious decor, exotic cocktails or blaring techno music at the tiny restaurant just outside of Greenway Plaza; just warm, friendly service and traditional Japanese-style sushi. The happy hour -- $1.25 domestics and $1 sushi Mondays through Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m. -- is hard to beat, and the lunch menu is an all-out steal. But while the prices may be low, the quality is not. After all, "oishii" is Japanese for "delicious."
Although it's the downtown location of Azuma that I love best, there are several locations of the ever-growing sushi empire scattered across town. Founder David Cheng, who hails from Taiwan, also owns two other popular sushi restaurants: Soma Sushi and Kata Robata, which make Cheng and his sons -- Hubert and Yun -- something akin to sushi impresarios here in Houston. At Azuma, Chef Harold Wong prides himself on carrying the freshest fish he can get and coming up with unique creations and reinterpretations of standard Japanese cuisine.
This well-frequented restaurant in a strip center on Westheimer is known for the freshness of its fish. The chefs create traditional Japanese food with a contemporary flair; there are many special sushi rolls, all beautifully presented. The atmosphere is relaxed yet upscale, and the hostesses are even dressed in traditional kimonos. Private parties can be accommodated in three -- count 'em, three -- tatami rooms.