Nara Debuts Korean Grill Room With an Upscale Take on Traditional Meals

Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
Dripping fat from marbled beef excites the fire on the grill at Nara.
In Korean, gogigui means, literally, roasting meat, and that's exactly what you do in Nara's new grill room, which opens to the public today, December 19.

Traditionally, diners prepare the Korean "barbecue" themselves at tables with built-in gas or charcoal grills in an informal setting. But at Nara, chef Donald Chang has sought to elevate Korean food with premium ingredients and a venue that is already being called one of the most beautiful in Houston.

Nara opened in mid-November, but this week marks the debut of the space designed specifically for Korean-style grilling. (I took a sneak peek at the space recently and was pleased.)

Dine with friends or make new ones in the communal grill room.
The three tables in the semi-private back room are conjoined, a communal dining experience ideal for groups of two to 12 people. In the center of each sleek, black table are 14-inch grills, which came from a restaurant-supply store in the Gangnam District of Seoul.

Traditionally, Korean barbecue is served with banchan, small side dishes such as kimchi, sesame eggplant and sautéed oyster mushrooms. The banchan at Nara are all unique, delicious and, of course, authentic. Chang's mother, Kyong Ja Chang, devised all of the recipes, and they're so secret that she won't even share them with her son. She and Chang's sister, Esther Cho, who is Nara's head kitchen chef, come to Nara daily to prepare the banchan and a few special sauces.

Location Info

Nara Sushi & Korean Kitchen

2800 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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this looks much better than his Uptown Sushi, which is the epitome of big hat, no cattle


Cool! we need a Korean restaurant inside the loop. I'm not so sure about an upscale overpriced Korean restaurant, but hey guess it's better than nothing and I'll give it a try... if I can get my wife past the airborne meat smoke from the grills.

KaitlinS topcommenter

@mehtaZ I actually didn't include it in the story, but Nara has state of the art vents over every grilling area that suck the smoke right up so it won't permeate everything in the room. I left that night not smelling like meat, which honestly made me a little sad, because I love to smell like barbecue...

KaitlinS topcommenter

@mehtaZ @KaitlinS No, but the vents suck, partially because they work so well, and partially because I don't smell like meat.

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