Chef Chat, Part 3: Seth Siegel-Gardner of Kata Robata

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This week I sat down and chatted with Chef Seth Siegel-Gardner, the new chef at Kata Robata. I also sampled some of the new menu additions. I've always loved Kata Robata, but Siegel-Gardner is bringing some seriously elegant food to Houston.

We started off the meal with a lovely Japanese Snapper salad with grapefruit. It was decidedly light and refreshing, with amazingly fresh fish and a wonderful zesty tartness from the grapefruit. This was followed by togarashi lardo with a grilled sushi rice cake, smoked soy jelly, and a quail egg. This dish is an absolute must for any true connoisseur. It was an experiment in textures. The lardo was almost sensual, like eating a dollop of whipped butter, while the grilled rice cake was perfectly crunchy. It was the kind of dish that leaves you happily perplexed, and even as you are eating it, you cannot wait to order it again another day in hopes of deciphering its delicious complexity.

Next was a beautiful plate containing foie gras and unagi with a soy hibiscus sauce. I must admit that the idea of eel has never been particularly appealing to me. However, this unagi was so insanely good that I could not stop myself from devouring it. It was a playfully sweet contrast to the savory foie gras.

The most surprising dish of the evening was a bowl of freshly made gnocchi topped with Revival Meats sausage, Brussels sprouts, and a poached egg. Although, I'd already eaten quite a bit at this point, I ate the entire bowl of potato pasta. It was hearty and rich, and you could taste the quality in each of the ingredients - the ultimate winter comfort food that you would never have expected at Kata Robata.

Dessert was a Mille Crepe cake, which literally means a cake made from a thousand crepes. Plated with chocolate dipped hazelnuts, freeze-dried raspberries, and green tea ice cream, this sweet treat has now officially been added to my top five favorite desserts. The cake itself was rich, but not overly sweet, which made it the perfect complement to all the accoutrements it came with. It was a play on textures and flavors that left me happily debating which taste combination I most enjoyed.

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