Veteran Chef Bringing Sushi to City of Bellaire

chef Yoshi Katsuyama of Aya Sushi

The City of Bellaire is getting a new place for sushi. On September 1, the owners of Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen, Ka Sushi and Fat Bao (Bruce Kish, Minette Corpuz and Pak Tsui) and longtime Houston sushi chef Yoshi Katsuyama will open Aya Sushi at 5407 Bellaire (the space formerly occupied by Bernie’s Burger Bus). Katsuyama trained in Tokyo and spent four years working at Uchi Houston before moving on to shorter stints at Soto and Aqui. In addition to his well-honed sushi skills, Katsuyama is also known as a highly entertaining chef with a great sense of humor. 

Madai Crudo at Aya Sushi
Madai Crudo at Aya Sushi in Bellaire. Courtesy photo.

Not to be confused with Houston’s ever-growing Asiatown, which is sometimes referred to as Bellaire because the boulevard runs through the area, the City of Bellaire’s sushi options are limited. Aya is changing that. Katsuyama and his team even created a maki (rolled sushi) named after Bellaire’s zip code, 77401. The 401 is made with tuna, salmon, avocado and squid ink-dyed miso vinegar and fried in a tempura batter.

Katsuyama is sourcing fish directly from Japan, flying it in daily. He and his team are using these and other fresh ingredients to prepare dishes such as Kanpaccio, thinly sliced amberjack (which is also known as kanpachi) with green apple, seasonal caviar and shoyu vinegar and Hamachili with yellowtail, ponzu, garlic and bird’s eye chili. The restaurant also features upscale offerings such as miso sea bass and A5 Wagyu.

Omakase or “chef’s choice”, a concept that is becoming increasingly popular throughout the Houston area, is traditionally reserved for guests seated at the sushi counter. Aya is expanding that option. For $135 per person, diners seated anywhere in the restaurant — including the patio and bar — can say “I leave it in your hands,” and order the chef’s-choice tasting menu.

Fiona Graham cocktail at Aya Sushi
Fiona Graham cocktail at Aya Sushi. Courtesy photo.

Industry veteran Chris Morris, who is beverage director for Aya and Kau Ba, will be developing both beverage pairings for the omakase and the overall beverage program. For Aya, Morris has designed a menu of drinks that includes his award-winning take on the white negroni, Fiona Graham, which uses Luxardo Bitter Bianco and junmai ginjo sake, and a Nitro Midori Sour. The nitrogen infusion adds a creaminess and fuller body to the drink. Additionally, the bar at Aya will showcase over 200 wines, 50 sake choices and 80 Japanese whiskies, all specifically curated with the restaurant’s sushi in mind.

Full hours of operation are not yet released, but limited reservations are available on OpenTable, with service beginning Thursday, September 1 at 5 p.m. If guests wish to enjoy the full omakase experience with Katsuyama at the sushi counter, they should send inquiries to [email protected]

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