The Delights Are in the Details at Kanau Sushi

Sushi restaurant menus can look pretty similar.

Yellowtail and spicy pepper crudo, as popularized by chef Nobu Matsuhisa? Check. Basic salmon- and tuna-based maki rolls? Check, plus a few specialty rolls probably named after where I’m eating them.

These days I’ll look for words like uni, wagyu, and karaage, necessary things to have in the age of hype-eating.

It feels a little like a box. But over the past few years, sushi restaurants have found ways to tear out the edges and find their own niches within the parameters. For instance, there’s wherever Mike Lim goes—Tobiuo in Katy quickly gained a reputation for cut-above omakase dinners and sneaky twists on previously formulaic fare, and now there’s Kanau Sushi. In this Midtown restaurant, which opened back in December, Lim finds ways to insert himself into the menu. Nothing has disappointed.

Here’s an example: Lim, who has a history of working with Korean flavors, prepares a crudo of amberjack with yuzu chili vinaigrette and chive oil. For one, the plating of the dish called Scarlet Moon is funny—amberjack on the rim of a bowl while the sauces pool beneath them, like the slivers of fish are kids eager to jump into the pool on a hot summer day.

And the amberjack is fresh and melts in your mouth. The sauce isn’t necessary. But you should try it. Houstonians who’ve been around a bit will immediately recognize the vinaigrette as an attempt at gochujang, the staple Korean component that’s sweet, sour, and bursting with umami. It enlivens the fresh fish. At Kanau, all the fish tastes like it came off a boat just hours before, but you can trust Lim when he pairs it with sauce. 

There’s a more obvious detour from common sushi restaurant fare—a tiramisu on the dessert menu. That stands out pretty boldly. You don’t see the ubiquitous Italian coffee and chocolate cake in a sushi restaurant, and yet Lim’s maintains the dessert’s darker notes while keeping bouncy and light. Some blackberry sauce helps, too.

Why tiramisu? Apparently Lim just likes tiramisu.

Cool. Love it. More of it. Kanau Sushi is at its core a sushi restaurant, and so it’ll have things you typically look for in a sushi restaurant. But look closely. Of course you can—and probably should—experience an omakase dinner and really get into Lim’s head, but I bet just scanning the menu for details will work just fine.

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