Soto, a new sushi spot that comes to Houston by way of Austin, has officially opened its doors.
The restaurant quietly made its debut in the space formerly occupied by Bistecca at 224 Westheimer Road earlier this summer. Its arrival was so quiet, in fact, that only a few people even knew the new destination for high-end sushi flown in from Japan and chef-led omakase dinners had opened its doors. Helmed by chef-owner Andy Chen, the Austin outpost of Soto opened in 2013, and has earned a devoted fan base at its two locations.
“We didn’t have any staff at the beginning, and it was just me by myself, so I wanted to keep things quiet” says the 35-year old Chen, a sushi prodigy who has been preparing sushi since he staged at a family friend’s restaurant at the age of 12.
The Houston location has been in the works for the last four or five years, but the chef says that he took his time in order to find the right location. “I have a lot of clientele from Houston who have been asking me to open something here for a long time,” the chef says.
The 3,500 square foot space, which Chen took over in December 2020, has been completely revamped with sleek lines and contemporary decor in black and gold. The 97-seat space boasts a large central dining room with hanging chandeliers, a sushi bar with seating for as many as 14 diners, plus a dedicated cocktail bar and secondary seating space that can double as a private dining room.
Chef Yoshi Katsuyama, a well-known sushi chef and former head sushi chef at Uchi Houston, has also joined Chen as part of the permanent team. “Most sushi restaurants are pretty similar, but we are trying create something different,” says Chen. “We focus on nigiri and sashimi, and each nigiri will have a special topping on top. We also cure most of our fish, so that it has better texture and flavor.”
As far as the food is concerned, diners can expect nigiri, sashimi, and classic Japanese appetizers, plus two different, one “regular,” and the other “premium,” 18-course omakase menus that feature fish flown in directly from Japan’s Toyosu Fish Market. Signature dishes, available both in Houston and Austin, include the heavily Instagrammed Fire Salmon, which involves Scottish salmon that’s served hanging above a lit flame. Other favorites include A5 wagyu beef from Japan that’s grilled on a hot rock, and a luxe foie gras dish served with dark chocolate, kabayaki, and almonds, plus a shot of eight-year-aged sake. Houston-only dishes include an aburi hamachi with seared banana pepper on top, and a special cured bluefin tuna known as nigiri zuke.
The cocktail menu includes a robust sake and Japanese whiskey line-up, with bottles such as the highly allocated Katsuyama Diamond Akatsuki Junemai Daiginjo from Miyagi Prefecture, and Yamazaki 18-year Whiskey.
Now open for dinner service, Soto’s hours of operation are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesday.