For ten years, Kata Robata has reliably been one of the city’s most beloved sushi restaurants. Helmed by chef Manabu Horiuchi, known to many as chef Hori, the restaurant has earned a reputation as a place where diners can always expect exceedingly fresh fish, top-notch service, and a hefty dose of chef Hori’s inimitable precision and creativity.
Kata Robata’s omakase service remains one of the city’s most worthy splurges. The menu fluctuates based on the types of fish that Horiuchi sources each day, and so does the price. Before service begins, Horiuchi spends hours preparing each of the components for the dishes he’ll serve during the omakase — thinly slicing the fish, preparing perfect sushi rice, and arranging sophisticated garnishes and accoutrements. “I try to make each dish simple—not too many ingredients,” Horiuchi says. “The preparation of each dish is the most important component to me.”
The resulting dishes served by Horiuchi and chef Jean-Philippe Gaston strike the balance between decadent and delicate. Fresh oyster is paired with uni for a contrast in brininess, while a foie gras torchon served with apple puree, Maraschino cherries, and hazelnuts is a study in decadence. The chef infuses a truly global array of flavors into the service, ranging from a chocolate-hazelnut mole sauce served with pan-seared wagyu beef to butter-poached lobster paired with lobster jus rotis.
Even the soy sauce that Horiuchi uses during omakase service is born of an extreme attention to detail. Sourced from Japan, the Yuasa brand soy sauce is crafted at Japan’s oldest soy sauce brewery. “They make “old school” style soy sauce from about 500 years ago,” Horiuchi says. “All the large soy sauce companies learned from them.” The sauce is used only during omakase services, probably because of its hefty price tag.
Throughout his time Kata Robata, Horiuchi has learned a thing or two about Houston diners, thanks in large part to interacting so closely with them during omakase services. “They want something new,” he says. “Our guests always want to try new types of fish. They’re also really knowledgeable. I have guess that know by taste when we bring in a new type of caviar.”
As the restaurant prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Eater photographer Caroline Fontenot captured a recent omakase dinner prepared by Horiuchi. Take a peek inside the service, and be prepared to make a reservation at Kata Robata.