Houston food, restaurants and dining review. Urban living, travel, thoughts and other randomness.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Kubo's Sushi Bar & Grill !!

Located on the second floor of the Rice Village Arcade, Kubo's serves up often inventive, sometimes fantastic sushi. This month, the specials consist of crab. Since, Rekha and I visit Kubo's primarily for their raw fish, we didn't order crab. Instead, we did our usual sushi warm-up with her getting the salad with ginger dressing and me getting the miso soup. Nothing particularly stunning there.

But we don't go to this slightly expensive sushi restaurant for the ho-hum soup or salad. No, we go for the sushi. Today, we ordered their Yellowfin Tuna Tataki, Hon Wasabi, and Kubo's Sushi Platter. The tuna tataki consists of diced tuna mixed with avocado in a light soy/oil based sauce. The meaty flavor of the tuna works very well with the rich avocado.

The sushi platter had the usual sushi consisting of tuna, eel, salmon, sea bass, shrimp, and sea urchin. (Yes, I used the English terms instead of Japanese, but I really didn't want to look up the spelling). Like every other visit, the sushi was fresh--but unlike the last visit, nothing tasted stunning. We have enjoyed two dishes here of particular note. If the restaurant ever has tuna or yellowtail available as a special, grab two plates. When Kubo's says something is available as a special, it isn't because they need to get rid of rotting food.

For me, what makes Kubo's is the hon wasabi. In their picture menu, they display the $2 order as something looking like a piece of asparagus. In reality, it comes just as your normal wasabi--in a paste. The similarities end there. The hon wasabi is mellow, sweet, spicy and dramatic all at once. This stuff tastes so good, I'll take a drop, put it on my tongue and let the taste develop. It starts slightly sweet, builds into a radish flavor and ends exploding in your sinuses. Amazing! I love it so much, I'll actually put small drops on my tongue between pieces of sushi.

The normal wasabi you get at most Japanese restaurants in Houston, including Kubo's (unless you pay the extra $2 for the hon wasabi), is prepared from dried horse-radish. The hon wasabi, on the other hand, is supposed to come from a real root. It's the rhizomes that give the wasabi the amazing flavor. Special graters are required to extract the taste. Some sushi chefs will only use sharkskin graters. I don't know what Kubo's uses, but know that I haven't tasted this kind of wasabi anywhere else in Houston.

The hon wasabi is probably indicative of the nature of this restaurant--unabashedly Japanese. Kubo's name is derived from its original chef, Hajimi Kubokowa, who trained many of Houston's sushi chefs. Kubokowa has now left, leaving the task of keeping his name in good order to Manabu Horiuchi. Even the owner is Japanese. All these Japanese elements bode well for a sushi restaurant dotted with Chinese-owned sushi restaurants.


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March 17, 2007


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