High design sushi restaurant Katsuya by Starck closed on Friday after approximately a year and a half in business. Local restaurateur Donald Chang, who owns Uptown Sushi and Bluefin, will open a high-concept Korean restaurant called Nara in its place. One Eater tipster reported that things had become grim at the end, with the restaurant only serving sushi but not prepared entrees.
As for Nara, a press release claims it will be the only Korean restaurant inside the loop and will feature a menu that blends Korean cuisine with Japanese influences. While the idea of Nara might not appeal to those who drive to Super H Mart for Toreore's fried chicken or to Seoul Garden, it's likely that the people who'll be eating there haven't heard of those places.
HOUSTON – One of the world's most culturally diverse cities will soon be home to an exciting first-to-market restaurant concept. Donald Chang, chef/owner of Uptown Sushi, Nara, and Bluefin will launch a new incarnation of the former Nara. The first modern Korean-inspired restaurant in Houston and the first Korean restaurant inside the Interstate-610 Loop, Nara will open in Fall 2013 in the location occupied by Katsuya Houston at West Ave. at River Oaks.
Houston recently was named by Departures magazine as having the most dynamic and diverse food scene in the nation, but its culinary landscape has lacked anything like Nara. Drawing on 22 years of Japanese culinary experience and his Korean heritage, Chang will create a menu that is Korean-inspired while still showcasing his expertise in Japanese cuisine.
"We've been waiting for the right time to do this," said Chang, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, and has lived in Houston for 37 years. "We've seen restaurants around town feature one or two Korean items on their menu. I want to give the full inspired menu while blending it with my Japanese cooking background to create an experience like none other in this city."
Aesthetically, Nara will feature a complete revisioning of the Katsuya space by architect Isaac Preminger. The high-energy interior will place an emphasis on increased comfort and an opportunity to see the chefs in action. The entrance to Katsuya will be pushed back to create an exterior patio for Nara with a separate outdoor menu. A Bun Bar featuring rice flour buns stuffed with a variety of ingredients and other casual fare will be unique to the outside patio and bar. The entrance to Nara will be punctuated by a majestic Sakura tree made from petrified wood and hand-made pink silk leaves.