Otto Phan’s ambitions have outgrown his small trailer at 1211 E. Sixth St. The chef will open Kyōten Sushiko at 4600 Mueller Blvd. next year. The restaurant, a brick-and-mortar expansion of his exceptional food trailer, will be a dual concept.
Kyōten Sushiko will offer counter seating, a few tables seats and take-out service of a menu featuring the rolls, bowls and boxed sushi (fish on compressed rice in rectangular form) from the trailer, but the centerpiece of the restaurant will be a small dining room with a rotating omakase menu. That rotating menu, which will cost $150 per person (tax and service included), will feature about 20 bites served by Phan.
The omakase, which will be served to a maximum of eight people at each seating, will be mostly comprised of fish, though Phan said he will occasionally serve high-end items like A5 wagyu beef and foie gras. The chef has lofty goals for the small restaurant he plans to open in the first quarter of next year.
“When it opens, it will be one of the best sushi restaurants in the country,” Phan said recently. “My goal is to be the best sushi restaurant in the world.”
It may sound like a brazen statement, but Phan, who has worked at world-renowned Nobu and Bar Masa in New York City and Uchi in Austin, brings a perfectionist’s zeal to his craft.
“Sushi is a discipline, not a cuisine,” said the chef, whose chirashi bowl of raw fish, outstanding rice and soft egg is one of my favorite dishes in town.
Phan points to three key tenants that frame his ethos when it comes to sushi: purity, harmony and balance. The chef, who uses a variety of techniques to prepare fish, such as curing, marinating and smoking it with hay, says he looks at a fish when he gets it and asks it what it needs.
“Don’t give it more than what it needs,” he adds.
While the sushi at Kyōten Sushiko will be traditional on paper, Phan says it is not what you’d find in New York or Tokyo.
“It will be clearly my own,” Phan said.
The University of Texas graduate who grew up in Houston intends to open the omakase portion of Kyōten Sushiko first (initially with one nightly seating) before opening the more casual dine-in and take-out aspects of the restaurant, which will be located a stone’s throw from the forthcoming Alamo Drafthouse at the Mueller development.
Phan will close the sushi trailer in late January.