Kata Robata Discreetly situated in a retail center, this top-notch sushi bar serves up fresh, innovative Japanese dishes daily under the direction of executive chef Manabu Horiuchi. Try a heaping bowl of spicy soy ramen — or Chef Hori’s inventive new caviar service. 3600 Kirby Dr., 713.526.8858




Mala Sichuan This longtime Chinatown favorite is equally popular inside the Loop, where its corner location in a Montrose shopping strip is reminiscent of a trendy New York resto. Mala’s menu packs a punch with dishes like the dry-pot chicken and three-pepper duck. Multiple locations, 832.767.0911



Nobu At socialite-savvy Nobu, hyperinformed waiters float around, delivering bite-sized delicacies on geometric white plates to tables. Unique takes on sushi include ones with pickled cucumbers, Shiso leaf and Japanese mackerel. In the Galleria, 832.987.2599



Pepper Twins Don’t take the “pepper” in foodie fave Pepper Twins lightly. The dishes at this Szechuan-style restaurant, now open in CityCentre, incorporate serious spices like the fresh nine-leaf peppercorn, helping customers to feel the burn. Try the mung bean smoothie! Multiple locations, 832.649.7175



Uchi It’s hard to beat Uchi for fresh, interesting sushi and sashimi — and the Brussels sprouts are can’t-miss. The sake social hour seating, which offers heavily discounted plates and wine from 5 to 6:30pm, is one of the most sought-after in the city. Prepare to wait in line. Equally delicious: An eight-course dinner to-go, with wine, for less than $100. 904 Westheimer Rd., 713.522.4808



Street to Kitchen Chef-owner Benchawan Painter finally has a permanent home for her Street to Kitchen pop-up concept. The East End restaurant spotlights self-proclaimed “unapologetically, authentically Thai” food, elevating items that are traditional street foods in Painter’s native Thailand to chef-driven dishes made with local and organic ingredients. 6501 Harrisburg Blvd., 713.428.1975



Himalaya Hidden in a retail plaza in Little India, this ultra-casual cafe is BYOB and serves up spicy Indo-Pak classics like chicken tikka masala and lamb biryani. If you’ve been-there-eaten-that, try the smoked-brisket masala or top-secret fried chicken. 6652 Southwest Fwy., 713.532.2837



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