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Two Uchi-Trained Sushi Chefs Plot A New Spot for Hand Rolls and Omakase

Chefs Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee are preparing for their new restaurant with a series of secret pop-up dinners

Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee, the minds behind Handies Douzo
Mai Pham

In the coming months, two sushi chefs with Uchi experience will bring a new destination for nori-wrapped hand rolls and super luxe sushi omakase to Houston.

The forthcoming restaurant, called Handies Douzo, is a project of Uchi Houston chefs Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee. The duo is currently testing their menu via a series of super-secret pop-up dinners called Secret Taste, the first of which was held this weekend at a brand new River Oaks mansion. “Daniel and I have worked together for three years, and like many chefs, our goal has always been to have our own place,” Pham tells Eater. “There are hand roll bars in California and New York, but nothing here, so we wanted to bring that to Houston.”

According to Pham, those hand rolls won’t be the typical cone-shaped offerings commonly seen at sushi spots. “These will be old-school hand rolls,” he says. “Taking different ingredients, preparing them in different ways, and doing that in a hand roll.” Each hand roll will be priced between $4 and $9 each, and the pricier options may feature luxury ingredients like caviar and otoro. There are also plans to offer multi-course omakase dinners at least once a month, based on demand.

While the duo search for a brick and mortar space for their new restaurant — they are currently considering locations within the inner loop — the Secret Taste pop-up dinners are an opportunity for Pham and Lee to conduct market research and build a clientele. The pop-ups will generally be held at least once a month featuring upwards of 15 courses with specialty ingredients like barracuda, otoro, Hokkaido uni and A5 Wagyu from Japan, and will be held at a location that isn’t revealed until after the guest confirms, hence the name Secret Taste. Pastry chef Dory Fung, the current executive pastry chef at Poitin, is in charge of the pop-up’s dessert.

Pham, 26, got a job as a part of the Uchi Houston opening team straight out of graduation at the Art Institute of Houston seven years ago, and worked up the ranks until reaching the position of head sushi chef, which he has held for the last three years. Lee, 28, got his start in a hibachi kitchen while in high school, attending Le Cordon Bleu in Hollywood, California, briefly owning his own sushi roll restaurant in Richmond, Virginia, before his wife’s placement in the biomedical engineering program at Rice University drew him to Houston, where he immediately joined the team at Uchi as a sushi chef.

Pham and Lee aren’t ready to announce an opening timeline for Handies Douzo just yet, but diners can keep up with the restaurant and the Secret Taste pop-up dinners on Instagram. Stay tuned for more details on when this restaurant is set to debut.