Veteran chef bringing sushi to the town of Bellaire


The City of Bellaire has a new address for sushi. On September 1, the owners of Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen, Ka Sushi and Fat Bao (Bruce Kis, Minette Corpuz and Pak Tsui) and longtime Houston sushi chef Yoshi Katsuyama will open Aya Sushi at 5407 Bellaire (the space formerly occupied by Bernie’s Burger Bus). Katsuyama trained in Tokyo and spent four years working at Uchi Houston before moving on to shorter stints at Soto and Aqui. Along with his well-honed sushi skills, Katsuyama is also known as a very entertaining chef with a great sense of humor.

Madai Crudo at Aya Sushi
Madai Crudo at Aya Sushi in Bellaire. Courtesy picture.

Not to be confused with Houston’s growing Asiatown, sometimes called Bellaire because the boulevard runs through the area, the sushi options in the city of Bellaire are limited. Aya changes that. Katsuyama and his team even created a maki (rolled sushi) named after Bellaire’s zip code, 77401. 401 is made with tuna, salmon, avocado and miso vinegar dyed with squid ink and fried in a tempura batter.

Katsuyama sources the fish directly from Japan, flying it in daily. He and his team use these and other fresh ingredients to prepare dishes such as Kanpacciothinly sliced ​​amberjack (also known as kanpachi) with green apple, seasonal caviar and shoyu vinegar and Hamachili with yellowtail, ponzu, garlic and bird’s eye chili. The restaurant also offers premium offerings such as miso sea bass and A5 Wagyu.

Omakase or “chef’s choice,” a concept that is becoming increasingly popular throughout the Houston area, is traditionally reserved for patrons seated at the sushi counter. Aya extends this option. For $135 per person, diners seated anywhere in the restaurant, including the patio and bar, can say “I leave it to you” and order the chef’s choice tasting menu.

Fiona Graham cocktail at Aya Sushi
Fiona Graham cocktail at Aya Sushi. Courtesy picture.

Industry veteran Chris Morris, who serves as beverage director for Aya and Kau Ba, will develop both beverage pairings for omakase and the overall beverage program. For Aya, Morris has designed a drinks menu that includes his award-winning take on white negroni, Fiona Graham, which uses Luxardo Bitter Bianco and junmai ginjo sake, and one Nitro Midori Sour. Nitrogen infusion adds creaminess and fuller body to the drink. Additionally, Aya’s bar will feature over 200 wines, 50 sake choices and 80 Japanese whiskeys, all specially selected for the restaurant’s sushi.

Full opening hours are not yet published, but limited reservations are available at open tablewith service beginning Thursday, September 1 at 5 p.m. If customers wish to enjoy the full omakase experience with Katsuyama at the sushi counter, they should send their inquiries to [email protected].

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