that's what I want
Inventive new Japanese restaurant opens in Upper Kirby with smart spins on favorite dishes
An ambitious, Japanese-inspired restaurant has opened its doors in Upper Kirby. Money Cat will celebrates its grand opening tomorrow, Saturday, January 7, after a soft opening period that began in mid-December.
Described as “New Japanese cuisine,” Money Cat represents a significant change from the food that chef-owner Sherman Yeung serves at Tobiuo Sushi & Bar, his popular restaurant in Katy’s LaCenterra development. The menu includes both traditional dishes and some more creative items that are inspired by other cuisines.
“We didn’t want to offer straight, traditional Japanese food,” Yeung said in a statement. “First, that’s not who we are. We’re part of a new age of restaurants. We’re young and want to do something new that pays tribute to and builds upon tradition. We want to create a dialogue with guests and build relationships, educate them about preparations and share our passion.”
To prepare for Money Cat, Yeung and chef de cuisine Jiolo “Jio” Dingayan staged at Michelin-stared restaurants. Yeung spent time at at Birdsong (San Francisco) and Smyth (Chicago), while Dingayan went to n/naka and n/soto in Los Angeles. They also worked with local purveyors to source ingredients for the restaurant’s dishes.
Diners will find both familiar dishes like sushi (nigiri, maki, and sashimi) and chawanmushi alongside riffs like tempura-fried maitake mushrooms in a spicy Buffalo sauce and the signature Tomato Garden that hides a black garlic-infused cheese foam under a squid ink “soil.” Chutoro toast — a dish that includes milk bread, burnt honey cream cheese, and dill — could be seen as a spin on bagels and lox.
Pair those dishes with a range of cocktails like the Calpico Fizz, a French 75 drinks that swaps sparking sake for the typical champagne and an Old Fashioned that uses black tea syrup. Spirits, Japanese beers, and an extensive wine list round out the beverage options.
All that eating and drinking happens in a 4,200-square-foot space that’s adjacent to Kiran’s in the Kirby Grove building (2925 Richmond Ave.). Details include a chef’s table with a view of both the kitchen and pastry station, black marble, and a wall of the restaurant’s namesake money cats (maneki-neko, or beckoning cat, in Japanese) at the entrance.
“I’ve always been fond of money cats,” Yeung added. “They’re super cute, plus there’s history behind them, and they’ll provide good fortune to the restaurant.”
Money Cat is open for dinner daily beginning at 4 pm.