Montrose Welcomes Nabi to the Neighborhood

Categories: Local Spotlight

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Photos by Troy Fields
Chalkboards in the dining room show how glad guests are that Nabi is here.
When chef Ji Kang moved to Houston from Dallas, he didn't know what to expect. By his own admission, Houston was a last resort.

The Austin native and Dallas-trained chef hadn't planned on moving here, but -- as he said in this week's cafe review of his new restaurant, Nabi -- he's glad he did.

"If I'd stayed in Dallas or Austin, I would have been too comfortable," Kang says.

But comfort isn't the main reason Kang is enjoying his new home: It's the welcome wagon that was here to meet him when he moved to Montrose.

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Kang was looking for a local pork source for his ramen; Feast helped him find one.
Established restaurant and bar owners as well as fellow chefs were quick to come and check Nabi out. But they weren't just sizing up the competition: Kang credits James and Megan Silk from Feast with helping him find local ranchers for items like his signature pork belly ramen, while folks like Brad Moore and Ryan Rouse -- the owners of Grand Prize Bar -- have sent their own friends to Nabi while becoming regulars themselves.

It's the kind of collaborative neighborhood support system that Kang couldn't have expected. But it's also what sets Houston apart. Said legendary Dallas chef Dean Fearing when asked what his city needs to make it a more interesting place to eat: "Camaraderie. If we want Dallas to move forward and become a great food city, we all have to work together. And with that, a humble attitude goes a long ways."

That type of camaraderie is increasingly present at every level of Houston's culinary scene -- and not just in our restaurants. At up-and-coming brewpub City Acre, its brewmasters are collaborating with fledgling brewery Buffalo Bayou Brewing to create a line of Chai Porters.

Coffeehouse owners and roasters Max Gonzales (of Catalina) and David Buehrer (of Greenway Coffee) are known for sharing their expert coffee techniques with baristas at other coffee shops.

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Another chalkboard at Nabi's entrance lists its local vendors.
Cafe Luz collaborates with The Burger Guys every Wednesday through Friday to bring the Guys' burgers to an otherwise difficult-to-broach downtown market.

Black Hole Coffee House and Revival Market offer their spaces as pick-up points for CSA programs. 13 Celsius -- among others -- offers its wine bar to chefs in need of a home for pop-up dinners.

Places like Pondicheri and Plonk invite in outside bartenders to create pairing dinners. Chefs collaborate on epic dinners like this Sunday's Umami dinner at Kata Robata, which will partner Kata chef Hori-san with Haven chef Randy Evans along with Hori-san's former sous -- and Evans's current sous -- Jean-Philippe Gaston. And these are but a few examples of many.

Simply put, the members of Houston's food and beverage industry support each other. And echoing a sentiment heard from hundreds of newly minted Houstonians, Ji Kang is happy that he chose our city after all.



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Location Info

Nabi - CLOSED

1517 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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19 comments
Gamma
Gamma

We went to Nabi on industry night (Mondays) for some ramen.  Good broth, significant portions of pork butt and properly seared pork belly, a soft-boiled egg, fish cake, and chives.  Noodles were good but not spectacular.  The Industry night beer and ramen for $6 was a good deal, but it was a much smaller portion than the $11 ramen on the menu.  The home fries were also very good.

The happy hour menu was quite extensive.  We're definitely going back.

ALG
ALG

I can't wait to try this place!  Spicy Ramen and Mochi Sundae here I come!

ec
ec

The menu did look appetizing because of the various ingredients but we were disappointed in the food.  I ordered the Nabi ramen.  It looked tasty but was pretty flavorless, just a greasy taste with no real flavor.  Something I wouldn't order again.  Sushi was average  at best cause the preparation was rushed.  Pieces weren't finely chopped which is what I expect.  Larger chunks shouldn't be in sushi.  I would say concentrating on a few things would make the place better.  Right now mediocrity rules.

Bull
Bull

Man, don't be fucking with my neighborhood restaurant! I will seriously kick some non-Nabi loving ass! 

Mello
Mello

Items I've eaten and enjoyed at Nabi... Veal Tongue, Sushi, Warm Romaine Hearts, Beef Potstickers, Fried Chicken, Shrimp & Short Rib Bowl...

 

Ron
Ron

I don't know where the hell Wuwu ate when they said they ate at Nabi because they must've been somewhere else. I've never had a bad dish at Nabi. They are consistently good. Methinks Wuwu is from Dallas and jealous that we have one of their former fine talents in our great city. 

Wuwu
Wuwu

Have to say this is some of the Worst food in the city...repeat WORST...we went a few Sundays ago, just awful all the way around.  Sushi terrible!  Apps, worse...it was so bad we ate about half of what we ordered.  Houston has great places and I can tell you this, not a chance this place makes it, no way, no how!

Wuwu
Wuwu

Me know restaurant...me know this place won't last....me, no not from Dallas.  If you put sushi on the menu damn better make sure me likey....folks I've said this many times before with all the standouts and in this case places like Raku, AKA, Uchi, Kata all within a mile or two why settle on crap.....no chance the "other things are good..." they really are not!  Vultures hovering above, scraps await....

Asinoes23
Asinoes23

 I'm with you, I won't be going back as there are much better places around.  Ramen noodles were gummy. Broth might as well have been miso. We should have skipped the roll completely.  The miso soup was tasted, pushed aside and left all alone by the miso loving kid. The only thing we actually ate were the brisket dumplings and even those were just so-so, juicy and tender but needed to be doused in the extra spice that came with the ramen.  I left there thinking 'yeah, why'd I just eat that?'

phaedracook
phaedracook

 I have to agree with Katherine. The sushi here can be "meh", but try the ramen and other cooked dishes. I consider the mochi sundae one of the best desserts in the area. It's a texture-fest with chewy mochi, ice cream and fresh strawberries. I want one right now.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Yikes. You are - quite literally - the only person I've heard that from. I wonder what happened... Although I will say in Nabi's defense that sushi is not the way to go there. Give the small plates a try if you decide to head back, and I really hope that you do.

Mark
Mark

Good. More table space for me. Have fun at General Joes. 

Brent Jatko
Brent Jatko

Ramen? Really? They have ramen chefs on premise? That I have to see!

The JB
The JB

KS, I've been there twice since the arrival of Nabi, and it was pretty middle of the road.  The service was lacking - ultra slow for five tables and two waitresses on a week night.  

But, my disappointment was mainly due to the departure of a sushi menu.  Rolls are listed on the menu, but the waitress told me that there was not a nigiri menu.  She suggested I rattle off the order a piece at a time.  I did.  I ended up with some salmon and escolar.  They had esolar, but not scallops?  Weird.  We were also able to get a rainbow roll despite it not being on the menu.

I'll give it another shot, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want Tomo back.

Ruthie J M
Ruthie J M

I had a fairly terrible experience there as well =( Not as bad as Wuwu's, from the sound of it, but definitely not a positive one either.

Sherie
Sherie

Agreed!  I live in the area and have been multiple times--every single visit I have been thrilled.  The braised eggplant is to.die.for.

Asinoes23
Asinoes23

No need for smarky remarks because someone doesn't like a restaurant that you do.  It's a blog and we are allowed to have varying experiences and share those experiences.  That General Joes comment was unwarranted.  I've never even been there. 

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Double yikes. Let's hope Nabi has fixed what went wrong - care to share with us? And I'm wondering if Nabi wouldn't do itself a huge favor by just taking the sushi back off the menu altogether (echoing Phaedra's comment below).

Ruthie J M
Ruthie J M

However -- How awesome that they've been so welcomed! Always glad to hear about supportive community efforts.

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