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

Monday, March 26, 2007

Miyako (Kirby)

I have a love-hate relationship with this Houston institution. I hate that I always wind up here when there are several better sushi restaurants. I love that this was one my first sushi restaurants and is always consistently pretty good--though almost never great. Today I had the same experience. After wandering around in the car thinking about what I could eat for $10 or less, I settled on a few pieces of sushi.

So I thought about Sushi King (ugghhh), Fish, Cafe Japon, Azuma or Kubos. I ended up at Miyako because it's easy to get to from the house, and the place isn't as stuffy as some of the ones on my list. The sushi chef, a hispanic guy (Latinos will be the rulers of the culinary universe in a few years), told me the sake (salmon), hamachi (yellow tail), and maguro (tuna) were pretty good today. Since these are my three favorite raw fish, I ordered one nigiri (raw fish on top of rice) of each. It seems tuna is good here every time I come in and at every sushi restaurant in Houston. I suspect it's not because the sushi is most fresh, but because people like the red meat taste.

The hamachi tasted good, but lacked that buttery flavor that can really send it over the edge. I enjoyed my sushi while overhearing a conversation between a young political campaign consultant and an old Tulsa engineer who happened into a conversation. I followed the sushi with gyu tataki (seared beef) served with the lemony ponzu sauce. I highlyn recommend this dish at Miyako. The presentation and flavor has changed over the years, but the ponzu sauce remains nicely acidic.

So another failed attempt to save money... $25 for dinner. But I had a good meal in an old haunt. If you go, sit at the sushi bar, order the gyu tataki and strike up a conversation with the sushi chef. It's the best way to enjoy this place.

UPDATE (03.26.2007):I reviewed this restaurant two years ago. It's been about that long since I ate here. Now I remember why. When I last went, the food quality was decreasing. It's gotten to the point where I have to say you shouldn't eat here. Here is the round-up of our food today:

- Agedashi Tofu - Tasteless Tofu (not silky like it should taste) without the gently fanning potato starch. Cut too big

- Beef Sashimi - Low-quality beef cut too thick. Dressed with red hot sauce (ugghhh) and lacking any delicate flavor. If I wanted a steak, I would have ordered one.

- Spider handroll- Over-fried crab

- Yellowtail with Yuzu Sauce and jalepeno - Good idea, but bad tasting fish. It tasted dry and didn't have the butter quality you expect from yellowtail

- Salad - Drowned in dressing.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ra Sushi

3908 Westheimer Rd.

Ra Sushi has some very cool red lanterns. Brilliantly located across from the Central Market, this place will surely become another hot spot for fake boobs, fantastic drinks and maybe even some eating. I'm not trying to put it down, I'm actually pretty excited about a place so obviously extroverted. Houston needs places like these to succeed if we're going to get more restaurants like Bank, Bistro Moderne, or Gravitas.

The food? Don't try the Nabeyaki udon. It's not bad, just not good. Do try the very tasty, very inventive Chili Ponzu Yellowtail. The yellowtail were tender nicely sized slices covered with a dried radish, pine nuts and a sprinkling of chili flavor. It comes with a chili ponzu sauce that blends perfectly on the bed of shredded daikon. Very good deal for $12.

We also had the spider handroll. There is a reason it's not on the menu. It sucks.

As with any new restaurant, service is a little spotty. But it's definately worth a revisit, especially as the crowds start to find the place. Just don't let the secret out: Ra is owned by Benihanas.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Nippon Japanese Restaurant

It seems I go to Nippon Japanese Restaurant on Montrose every time my wife is away. With her pastry classes three nights a week, I'll be going there quite often. Although the sushi there is good, I go for the Japanese Ramen. This authentic little (and I do mean little) restaurant is hampered by limited parking, slow service and dingy decor. But it more than makes up for it by its steaming hot bowl of Japanese ramen.

For those of you who don't know, real ramen tastes very little like the ramen noodles you boiled up throughout college. Chinese egg noodles are used. The broth is dark and delicious: flavored by the boiled egg, pork, and seaweeed. There are different kinds of ramen, and I haven't tried them all, so I can't tell you if they serve miso, tonkotsu, or shoyu ramen. I suspicion the tonkotsu since they do serve it with pork, but I really can't tell, other than to say that I think the miso is creamier than the one served at Nippon. My one complaint? Too much bean sprout. I keep forgetting to ask them to go easy on the stuff.

Compare the following recipe for instant ramen noodles we enjoyed in college:
Boil water for ramen and cook until the noodles are almost done. Drain green beans (do not save the water) and add to ramen. Microwave for approximately 90 seconds or until desired temperature. Drain liquid and add seasoning packet.

with the following INGREDIENTS for real ramen from Bob & Angie:
1kg chicken bones for 1.5 liter chicken soup,1 white onion (leek), 30 grams ginger, 2 liters water, 4-5 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons sake, 1/3 teaspoon salt, a little pepper and sesame oil, 4 balls of chinese noodles, 8 pieces yakibuta (chinese pork ham), 4 pieces naruto, 1/2 bunch spinach, 1/2 sheet nori, 1/2 green onion, a little shinachiku (chinese flavored bamboo shoots)

Which would you rather have?


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