Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi, Kata Robata
James Beard Award-nominated Chef Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi, always knew he would be a chef. Inspired at an early age by his mother's talent and use of fresh ingredients, Chef Hori began his career at age sixteen in the kitchen of a retirement home, where his mother was the chef. After graduating from high school, Chef Hori moved to Osaka to attend the Tsuji Culinary Institute of Japan - the country's most prestigious culinary school. Truly gifted in his craft, he graduated with top honors and completed his special certification to prepare Fugu (or blowfish).
His skill and curiosity took him to Tokyo in 1993 to work as Executive Assistant Chef under celebrity chef Mamoru Sugiyama at his critically acclaimed restaurant, Sushi-Ko Honten. Four years later, seeking a new challenge and to broaden his training, Chef Hori became the sous chef at Ichimura Kansai Kappou - a restaurant specializing in Osaka-style cuisine. It wasn't long before Chef Hori's talents were recognized. In 1999, he was bestowed the great honor of moving to Houston and serving as the Consulate General of Japan's Official Executive Chef, preparing the family's meals as well as cooking for large social events attended by the Consulate General's high profile guests. Chef Hori transitioned back into restaurants in 2001, when he joined Kubo's in the Village and making it one of the best sushi restaurants in the city.
After eight years and a remarkable list of accomplishments, chef Hori was once again seeking a new challenge. In 2010, the Azuma Group's Yun Cheng, a long-time fan, suggested that Chef Hori might be the perfect fit for his new Japanese tapas concept and turned over full creative license of the kitchen at Kata Robata. With Chef Hori leading the charge, Kata Robata burst onto the Houston dining scene with his brand of unique flavor and texture combinations that were both sensational on the palate and visually stunning. Right out of the gate, Kata Robata was awarded Best New Restaurant of 2010 by the Houston Press. In 2011, Chef Hori received recognition as one of Houston's Rising Star Chefs and recently has earned himself a semi-finalist spot for the highly-coveted James Beard Award.
With a solid following of loyal diners and his undying pursuit "to make Kata Robata the best Japanese restaurant in America", Chef Hori continues to delight and satisfy our hunger for an unforgettable culinary journey.