Swinging sushi down the street from Uchi is chef Ji Kang of Nabi. While stating his oh so humble interest is to let the food do the talking, there isn’t a single thing wrong with fluffing it up, Ji! Uchi is front door pounding and you need to answer with a self absorbed roar, for people must know.
Kang cheffed at Dish in Dallas before moving to Houston to open Nabi. During an interview last week, Kang described Nabi’s concept as American comfort food with an Asian twist. He’s looking for adventurous eaters willing to step out of the boring box.
Nabi is his mother’s nickname meaning… butterfly. Childhood memories of his mother & her wonderful way with food, played a part in Kang’s want to focus on a neighborhood concept. Having a seemingly small restaurant, his ultimate goal is to focus on regulars. A person coming in two to three times a week is his want, rather than the average weekend wanderer.
Yikes. We started with the scariest of all scary brisket potstickers. This particular sticker has 24 hour brisket, green chile, and citrus ponzu. Eww. Meat eaters rejoice while instantly becoming one with your incisors, for this section of the menu is not messing around.
Let us not waste a scrumptious second before speaking of the crispy veal tongue. Cleverly including the veal’s tongue makes sense. This dish of baby cow delish has honey onions, pickled celery, spiced yogurt, and parsley chips. Belly stuffing moves forward when ordering the pig’s ear salad with charred habanero, hojimiji mushrooms, baby spring onion, and kimchi vin. Pig product pizzazz continues with pulled pork steamed buns having pickled cucumbers, hoisin, and daikon sprouts.
This! Nabi’s chili edamame with toasted chili, olive oil, and sea salt reaches well beyond all expectations of edamame amazement.
Proof of the “Green” section of the menu’s glory became evident upon tasting the warm roasted mushroom salad with seasonal mushrooms, roasted eggplant, hazelnuts, and fresh herbs. Nabi also offers a kitchen sink salad with blue bonnet greens mixed with fuji apples in orange ginger vinaigrette.
As hard as an athlete works to prepare for the Olympics or the occasional in town triathlon, well, that’s the amount of work exerted when trying to stomach octopus. Seared octopus with endive, blood orange brown butter, and hazelnuts probably has potential to make people across America extremely happy. Long flowing tentacles clash with all forces of my brain. No thanks.
Tuna pizza jumps from the seafood section, having crispy rice, spicy tuna, white tuna, jalapeno, and gold tobiko. Nabi offers lobster & shrimp dumplings with zucchini and crispy shallots, as well as sweet Texas corn & lobster chowder with seasonal mushrooms, fresh turmeric, and roasted squash.
One of the many not to miss is Nabi’s tartare taco prepared using tuna, salmon, hamachi, pine nuts, and fuji apples. Pan roasted mussels are another must prepared with seasonal mushrooms, ginger, and sake in a miso reduction.
The world instantly became a better place seconds after realizing chef Ji Kang possesses three mini arm tattoos. Even better is knowing products used to create Nabi’s evolving menu are locally grown, as well as being seasonal. Chef Kang’s goal is to “present food that will bring different cultures and ethnicities together that makes up an amazing neighborhood.” He couldn’t do more to make this happen.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch