Kenzo Sushi Bistro's crafty culinary mariners serve up a fresh, creative menu culled and rolled from the fruits of the sea and much more. Commence the noshery with a hot appetizer such as the succulent scallop butteryaki ($9) or the well-behaved seven-spice calamari ($9), and cool off your tongue with cold starters such as fresh salmon ceviche ($9). Seafarers can sample the cougar roll, a zesty fusion of spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, and ponzu sauce, or up their bandwidth with a colorful collection of seaweed tubes such as sushi combo A ($16), which includes a luscious LAN party of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and more. Stop by during lunch hour for Kenzo's bento boxes, which pack a wallet-friendly wallop of a veggie roll, gyozo, four-piece California roll, steamed rice, and your choice of entree ($7–$8).
Leaping flames illuminate hibachi chefs' faces as they sear steak, chicken, and seafood in the kitchen of Nikko Sushi & Steak, a Houston eatery whose menu centers on the triad of sushi, steak, and sake. Signature house rolls, such as the spicy baked crawfish roll topped with crabstick, complement sashimi and udon noodles in clear broth. Meats such as tender rib eye and new york strip steak give the menu an American twist without printing it on the Liberty Bell. While they await their dinners, diners cozy up in plush red booths curtained for privacy, sit at traditional tables, or pull up stools to the bar illuminated by hanging lights evocative of traditional paper lanterns.
Three-sided tables house massive hot griddles at Koby Japanese Steakhouse, where chefs deftly dance with blades and flames to transform food preparation into a show. During dinner, they dice meats, juggle knives, and drum rhythms against the tabletops. They sculpt fried rice into massive hearts before slicing portions off and delivering them to guests’ waiting plates. For the finale, they prepare different proteins—from chicken to lobster—in signature sauces before they disappear in puffs of steam from their freshly cleaned griddles.
Taisho is so serious about hibachi and teppanyaki that they have an entire room devoted to it: in the Hibachi Room, chefs sear meats and veggies on specialized tabletop grills, flipping them theatrically onto a cushion of rice, in turn located on guests' plates. Their performances are not limited to the Hibachi Room though, as they can also pull tableside grills up to the main dining room's semi-private circular booths. In either space, they let guests choose to have their teppanyaki plates bulked up with a diverse selection of meats and seafood, including teriyaki chicken, sirloin, gulf shrimp, or scallops.
The chef's specialty entrees include sashimi-grade tuna steak with an apple-olive sauce and macadamia chicken sweetened with pineapple, combining more flavors than Manhattan combines people of different walks of life who all hate hailing cabs. Beyond the flames shooting up from the grills, the ambience on Friday and Saturday evenings is set by a rotating lineup of musicians that create soothing background sounds.
The specialty sushi here includes some unexpected ingredients: there’s a plum-paste maki roll, and a crispy veggie roll with ginger, pickled radish, and sweet gourd. If the cheeky entree names (Spicy Old Lady, Udon It This Time) don’t bring on a smile, a glass of sake infused with peach, apple, or lychee will probably do the trick.
It’s an unlikely pairing of culinary styles—Japanese and South American—but somehow it works at Japaneiro’s. There’s sashimi and pepito sandwiches, dumplings and ceviche, sake and caipirinhas. The cuisines directly integrate at times; take, for example, the Wildflower roll with spicy tuna, avocado, cilantro, and jalapeño.