Nabi Again!

Nabi Neighborhood Restaurant

1517 Westheimer Rd Houston

(713) 526-8866

www.nabihouston.com

Rating: 8

Telling everyone about how awesome Nabi is only made us crave for more. Just like crack heads or sharks (or crackhead sharks) once we’ve had a taste, we want more!

I’m still obsessed with the space, which looked even better in daylight:


sweet texas corn + lobster chowder (seasonal mushrooms/fresh turmeric/roasted squash):

He ate: I loved the soup! It’s easily hands down the best lobster bisque/chowder I’ve ever had. It was creamy but still had a bit of kick to it.

She ate: I also LOVED this dish the most out of everything we ordered today. What a vast improvement to the lobster bisque we had at Capitol at Saint Germain.  I know this is a chowder, not a bisque, but it was just better in every way. Huge chunks of lobster swimming in a creamy but not too rich broth. The chives give it a nice texture and is not too onion-y tasting. The mushrooms and squash were cooked perfectly and gave the chowder a nice balance of vegetables and lobster. I’m not sure what the red oil is on top since the soup didn’t seem spicy to me, but whatever it was, it worked.

Tuna Pizza (crispy rice/spicy tuna/white tuna/jalapeno/gold tobiko):

He ate: Another solid dish, albeit strange presentation. It was as if they wanted it make a roll, somehow ended up with a pizza, then did their best with it.

She ate: I quite liked the presentation of this dish, actually! I was intrigued by the “crispy rice” which in my head was a sushi version of Mos Burger. If you’ve never been to Mos Burger, you’re missing out (and you’ve probably never been to Taiwan, Singapore, or Hong Kong). They make these delicious burgers with crispy rice patties, filled with juicy, saucy beef, shrimp, calamari, etc.

Mmmm. Come to mama.

(Image courtesy of Mos Burger)

I wish the tuna pizza had been a small circle cut into slices to resemble a real pizza. Instead it came in small wedges, but big enough so you can still pick it up. It made me feel like I was a giant, eating a tiny slice of pizza. The bottom part was a layer of seaweed, then a layer of rice, lightly battered and fried, then topped with very fresh tuna mixture, micro greens, jalapeno, tobiko, then drizzled with that good japanese creamy dressing. Overall I liked this dish for the interesting texture, but it could use a bit more on the flavor front.

Nabi Ramen (bacon broth/pork shoulder+belly/poached egg/scallion):

He ate: Not the best ramen I’ve ever had, but it was still tasty and a nice way to end the meal. It was a bit bland in the beginning, but great quality pork belly made up for it.

She ate: Wow, ramen. Talk about a food trend. The fact that the entire inaugural issue of Lucky Peach Magazine was dedicated solely to ramen should give you a hint that it is one of the latest and greatest food obsessions. I’ve read a couple ramen crawls in Houston, and it sounds like it’s a tie among Kubo Cafe, Soma, and Kata Robata. I’ve tried Kata Robata’s and while I don’t think Nabi’s ramen is necessarily better, it certainly ranks up there. The broth was very flavorful, but a little too salty. It had a great barbecue pork grill taste to it. The pork belly was nicely grilled, although once again the fat to eat ratio is 1:2, and I prefer 2: 1 or 3:1 or just 1. The pork shoulder was actually better than the pork belly. It was in shreds and very soft. The egg was poached a little too long, and the fish cakes were nothing to speak of, just your run of the mill supermarket pink fish cake, (which is just fine with me). The noodles had a nice bite and stayed al dente (or as we say in Chinese, “Q!”) until we finished the meal. However, it was not hand-made noodles, which is a point off. There was not enough broth for all the ingredients, but that was quickly amended as our waitress brought us extra broth upon request.

Short rib home fries (marinated short rib/yukon potato/cheese/caramelized kimchi) (We topped this with an egg, of course.):

He ate: I thought the home fries were only ok. I would’ve liked larger fries. I’m beginning to think that smothered fries are either not my thing or are much harder to do than well than people realize.
She ate: I thought the fries were pretty darn good, but I didn’t see or taste any kimchi, which was a big disappointment to me. I’m a kimchi fanatic and have actually NEVER HAD kimchi fries before! Can you believe it? The egg was good: crispy around the edges, raw yolk, just the way mom makes it. I appreciated the fact that the home fries were in mini wedges instead of either big wedges (not enough flavor!) or chopped into squares (soaks up too much oil). The short ribs had a nice texture but were cut into too small of pieces to fully enjoy. The cheese was a nice creamy touch but I think it needs to be a more flavorful cheese, maybe a smoked gruyer. I think a smoked cheese would have complimented a very spicy, plentiful kimchi. Even with these flaws, the dish was still pretty darn satisfying.

Crispy veal tongue (honey onions/pickled celery/spiced yogurt/parsley chip):

He ate: The tongue was bland…and not tongue-y, which is sort of the reason why one would order tongue. I’m not sure why people would order this, and I normally love tongue. It was sort of like veal jerky.
She ate: This was a miss, for sure. I think the dish had a lot of promise. I love tongue. I love fried shit. combine the two, add yogurt sauce, how can you go wrong? The tongue was not flavorful at all, and the rock sea salt bits on top didn’t help matters much. It was not tough or dry as it looks to be, but at the same time it was not juicy. You really had to drown it in sauce and honey onions (which were sweet and valiantly attempted to save the dish) in order for it to be worth any substance. In this case, maybe sticking with traditional Asian cooking method (stewing and serving it in paper-thin slices) is wiser.
Dishes I still want to try:
breakfast 12
pork belly/fried egg/avocado/pickled radish/katsu
bbq shrimp + short rib fried rice 11
head on shrimp/snow peas/cilantro/sesame oil
springer mountain roasted chicken 12
pickled cucumbers/daikon kimchi/chinese sausage/steamed rice
ginger duck + noodles 11
confit duck/scallions/shiitake/shishito peppers/hazelnuts
charbroiled bbq ribeye 13
roasted vegetables/soy glaze/steamed rice/kochujang
lobster + shrimp dumplings 15
xo sauce/zucchini/crispy shallots
mini lamb “corn dogs” 10
cilantro/fennel chutney/green mustard
tl; dr: Still love this place! More hits than misses, with the hits better than most other dishes in town.
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