On a recent shopping expedition with my girlfriends in Houston, I noticed a ‘new’ sign advertising a Japanese restaurant close by called Izakaya WA. As it was lunchtime it seemed rude not to stop by for a visit.
We arrived around 11.45am and yet even with an 11.30am opening there weren’t any tables available inside! Wow, now that’s a promising sign. As Houston was experiencing one of its rare cooler days we decided to brave the outdoor seating area. Although we were the first to take a seat outside, by the time we left this area was also full.
‘In Japan, Izakayas are places where it is common to drink and relax while enjoying many sample-sized dishes similar to the concept of tapas”
I had visited this location a few years earlier when it was a Mexican restaurant so I asked our server how long they had been open. Imagine my surprise when she said 3 years! How unobservant I must be. But better late than never.
The setting is somewhat hidden from the busy Memorial Drive address so could be a little tricky to find. Look for the sign close by the Roberts store and then drive behind the Compass Bank to find the parking area.
The lunch menu had quite a large selection. There were many shareable starter options so we decided to order some edamame (USD 4) and seaweed salad (USD 4). In keeping with the tapas idea there were sharing plate options from the Sushi Bar such as assorted sashimi, 3 for USD 18 or 5 for USD 35. And options from the kitchen such as Potato croquette, karaage (fried chicken nuggets), and age takoyaki (deep fried octopus balls with bonito, mayo sauce, and ginger).
Our very helpful server checked back on us quite a few times as we struggled to decide what to eat. Too many good sounding options I guess. We ordered a shrimp sushi roll while we contemplated our next dish. Finally, we decided to each try an Udon noodle soup.
Our large bowls of Udon soon arrived. The Udon noodles can be a little tricky to eat so here are a few tips that worked for us:
The lunch menu does give you the option to have a smaller bowl of Udon (we only noticed that later) and I would probably opt for that on a future visit.
Izakaya WA offers a selection of local craft beers, a good selection of Japanese beers, plus a few beers on draft. There were also a few wine options, and of course Japanese sake (by the bottle and by the glass). I also noticed a Japanese drink called Ramune with Japanese Sprite, strawberry and melon flavors. I guess you could call this the Japanese equivalent of a gastro pub.
There were a few parfaits and ice cream options for dessert but the noodle soup was far too filling for us on this visit so sadly we passed.
A very knowledgeable and helpful server really enhanced our visit. I’m not sure I’d be prepared to sit outside in the Houston summer heat but I noticed that they take reservations so perhaps a little pre-planning would be needed. The menu had numerous dishes that I would love to try so I can see me stopping by again.
Address: 12665 Memorial Drive, Houston, Tx 77024 (behind Compass Bank)
Phone: 713 461 0155
Opening Hours: Website gives two different versions. Monday shows as closed on one web page but not on another so check directly for up to date info.
Other info: Reservations taken