Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Event: Nabi Houston Grand Opening Sat. Nov 19, 2011

As I have stated in my 411 on the DL block, I love to try different foods, both traditional and experimental, and of all ethnic varieties.  Little did I know that my love of this would lead to a pleasant suprise on Nov. 19th with an invitation to the grand opening of a Korean/Texas Fusion place in Lower Westheimer/Montrose called Nabi. Rachel Kim informed me that Nabi is Korean for "butterfly" and is also Executive Chef & Owner Ji Kang's Asian Fusion concept. As I found that evening, much like a butterfly goes through a chrysalis and metamorphosis, Nabi's food is in many ways Texas food and Korean food that have been mated and after time in a cocoon has reached a new chrysalis of flavour, and I am dubbing it "TexAsian Fusion."

Nabi is located at 1517 Westheimer, tucked right next to Bambolino's Pizza by the Slice.  The interior has the look of a Spartan Industrial Hip restaurant, with wide open spaces where you can see the bar, the kitchen and service area easily from just about any booth or table inside.  The interior is also blended with various touches that suggest Asia, Texas, the University of Texas at Austin and other such places.
(l to r) Janie Kang, Rachel Kim, Isabel Cho of NABI

Rachel Kim, Isabel Cho and Janie Kang of Nabi were greeting the guests and happily answering questions as well as answering questions about the menu and other attributes of the restaurant.  These three young women are very social media savvy, which was reflected in that the house was quite full of Houston Food bloggers and a couple of reporters from Fox 26.  The crowd also included scores of folks from young 20 something hipsters to 20 something business types and folks older than me from the neighborhood.  A typical diverse Houston bunch doing one of the things Houstonians love best:  eating great food!!!

The announced Menu and descriptions were:

  • Whole roasted suckling pig

  • Hippie Roll: soy paper/avocado tempura/diakon salad

  • Braised Brisket Potstickers: 24hour brisket/green chile/citrus ponzu

  • Fish Takos: hamachi/crab/tuna/white soy/cilantro

  • Fried Chicken Skewers: sweet chili/pickled red onions/mint/cilantro

  • Tuna Pizza: crispy rice/spicy tuna/white tuna/shishito/gold tobiko

  • T3 Roll: spicy tuna/torched tuna/white tuna/tobiko cucumber/avocado

  • I had a chance to try some of all of this glorious TexAsian Fusion and was very impressed with the food quality, presentation and flavour.  So, here is a breakdown of my thoughts on each sample dish that was offered:

    Whole roasted suckling pig: This was the big dish--very well seasoned with veggies laid out, skin was chewy, all the various parts of this little piggy were very tender, juicy, sweet, meaty and full of flavour. It reminded me a bit of roast pig I'd had at a Filipino Christmas party, but since it was a suckling pig, it was way more tender and juicy.

    Hippie Roll: This was a nice veggie roll with fresh avocado that was cool and creamy. The diakon salad was a bit savoury, had nice crispness and worked well with the other ingredients.

    Braised Brisket Potsticker
    Braised Brisket Potstickers: This was a favourite of mine. Being a proud, beef-eating Texan, I like a slow cooked brisket better than a lot of other things. The wait staff circulated and offered these to sample--hot and fresh and crunchy on the outside. The chewy, beefiness of the brisket, the crunchy potsticker wrap, the subtle spiciness of the chile and the acid of the citrus ponzu melded together to make a very satisfying eating experience. This item here could be mass produced, frozen and sold at HEB's all over Texas and would be a Recipe to Riches winner, in my opinion.

    Fish Tako
    Fish Takos: This particular appetizer gets tons of bonus points from me for creativity as far as frying the rice cake into the shape of a mini taco shell, filling it with the crab and tuna--all having very fresh, delicate flavours, complemented by the white soy and the subtle bitterness of the cilantro. This was one of the more beautiful dishes to eat as well as look at. They also had a soft version as well that was served with cucumbers and cilantro.

    Fried Chicken Skewer
    Fried Chicken Skewers: This was another creative winner in my book. Southern style breaded fried chicken done on a skewer almost like Chicken Satay, and then coated with a mixture of Srirachi sauce, onions, mint and cilantro. These were brought hot and fresh by the wait staff, while the breading was still crispy. The Srirachi sweet chili sauce and the herbs/veggies all work well together. This is a great appetizer and I highly recommend ordering it on your first visit.

    Assortment of items:
    Fish Tako, T3 Roll, Tuna Pizza
    Tuna Pizza: Still another creative bonanza that the kitchen staff at Nabi whipped up for us to try. The crispy rice with seaweed for the crust was a nice start, but adding the tuna (either spicy or white) and the veggies/sauces were a nice twist on Pizza, Okonomiyaki and Handrolls. Another winner for Nabi.

    T3 Roll: Three different types of Tuna served with cucumber and avocado, in a seaweed wrap. While it might be the tamer of the dishes served that evening, it would satisfy your average sushi eater looking for something familiar to nosh on before eating the main dish.

    Since this was a grand opening, it would not be proper to do my usual Foodie Professor Report Card. However, as an "Individual Assignment" Rachel Kim, Isabel Cho and Janie Kang earn a solid A+ on Nabi's Grand Opening. I seriously advise all my Houston area readers to drop by and give their TexAsian cuisine a serious try. I will be visiting again after they've been open a month or two in order to give them a proper review.

    Nabi Houston
    1517 Westheimer Rd
    Houston, TX 77006
    (713) 526-8866

    And remember:
    Eat Happy!!!
    Zao an, Y'all!!!

    1 comment:

    VeacinCove said...

    A restaurant owner does an effort in order to attract number of customers towards it. He tries to provide the taste of traditional food along with modern food items. This kind of effort is remarkable and must be appreciate in all ways.
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