The chefs at Crave Sushi construct pieces of edible Asian art in a sleek lounge with accents the ruby-red hue of ahi tuna. Owner Linny Hoang's chefs give maki a makeover at a sushi bar, slipping blades through inventive ingredients and twisting soy paper or seaweed into creations including the Cheetah roll, a bundle of surimi crab mix, cream cheese, and cucumbers dusted with Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Diners stroll past, crowded bento boxes tucked beneath their arms, or linger postmeal over homemade fried-banana wontons and electrically hued drinks. Bubbies mochi balls are imported from Hawaii to draw grins, much like a long-lost cousin on a confusing sitcom, and happy chatter fills the lounge late into the evening on weekends.
Through the power of seaweed, sushi compartmentalizes your food into neat, bite-sized spare tires that rejuvenate deflated stomachs. Have sortabreakfast for dinner with a futomaki roll filled with egg, shittake, dried cod, and gourd ($6), or embrace the raw, unmitigated encounter between humankind and fishkind with a ko-haku roll of Texas blue crab, avocado, tuna, and jalapeño ($15). Or keep your seameat affair superficial with a decadent salmon-skin roll with radish sprouts, pickled burdock, and cucumber ($6). Sushi Raku also serves a variety of heat-applied cuisine, sporting with flair northern Japanese robata grill fare. Nab skewers loaded with weighty delectables such as Kobe beef and yuzu pepper ($13.50) or rib eye and wasabi ($7) and enjoy them blackened over a simmering hearth.
A dim red glow reflects off dark walls at The Fish, and a vibrant, lush interior sets the stage for its succulent sushi, which snagged Citysearch's "Best of" honors in 2007. The varied menu offers a multitude of inventive seaweed cylinders. A molten shellfish flow runs through the volcano ($10), neatly stuffed with savory baked snow crab, salmon, scallops, and wrapped scallions. Decorated seafood veterans will salute the lobster roll's badges of avocado, cream cheese, crab, and wasabi mayo ($13). Aside from raw rolls, the grilled beef rib-eye roll ($10) features juicy cuts wrapped around avocado and dashes of cilantro and teriyaki. Replenish your tongue's spice rations with the pan-seared jalapeño scallops ($8), or bedeck it in broiled miso silver cod ($15), the sea's authorized currency.
The Bangkok Chef kitchen is a treasure trove of fresh, exotic ingredients—from juicy mangos to crisp kaffir leaves to fiery chilies. Chefs fold the ingredients into a comprehensive array of traditional Thai specialties, including curries, noodle dishes, and stir-fries. Inside the bustling kitchen, you'll find them flying around stirring tender duck and pineapple into a red curry and peeking into pots of bubbling tom yum soup, ensuring each dish is spiced to perfection. Servers carry dishes out into the bright dining room, where soft lights illuminate intimate tabletops and comfy booths, and expert bartenders blend up lychee martinis and minty mojitos. The restaurant sometimes closes briefly after the lunch rush before reopening in the evening, allowing chefs time to assemble fresh ingredients for dinner or attend rehearsals for the kitchen's upcoming production of Oklahoma!.
In 2008, brothers Yuen and Peter Yung opened the first How Do You Roll? restaurant, devoting it to inventive, customizable sushi. Just five years later, the eatery has expanded to multiple locations across four states—including a spot in Houston, in the tunnel under Commerce Towers. There, chefs invite customers to build their own sushi rolls or bowls, beginning with white or brown rice, which can then be topped or rolled with ingredients such as raw spicy salmon, grilled chicken, avocado, and strawberries. Sauces such as wasabi mayo and toppings such as chili powder finish off each roll.
Diners can also opt for one of How Do You Roll?’s favorite recipes, such as the Mango Tango, whose krab stick, salmon, vegetables, and mango salsa are assembled by a chef holding a rose in his teeth. The menu also caters to healthy-minded hungers with low-carb bowls, gluten-free options, and 13 rolls that contain fewer than 300 calories apiece.
The sushi artisans at Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar assemble innovative Japanese dishes and artfully plated, seaweed-wrapped rolls during lunch and dinner hours. In Azuma’s signature roll ($11)—the first listed on its extensive menu—tuna, salmon, and whitefish get to know avocado and chili oil by virtue of sharing the same seaweed wrap, an orientation activity popularized in the Navy. The John Doe roll ($14) belies its name with bursts of spicy yellowtail and pepper tuna, and Azuma’s signature gazpacho ($6) cools palates with a soup of salmon, mango, avocado, and tomato juice. For hot dishes, the restaurant's waiters serve up a whole, grilled squid ($9), its 200 yards blanketed in spicy miso and ginger soy sauce. Robata-grilled specialties include eggplant skewers coated in a sweet, miso glaze ($3) and Alaskan black cod simmering in a miso marinade ($14).