In recent months, the city has seen an uptick of restaurant openings offering exclusive omakase tasting experiences, and yet another is slated to open in Houston this month. Hai Hospitality, the Austin-based James Beard Award-winning restaurant group behind Uchi, Uchiko, and Loro Smokehouse, is debuting Oheya by Uchi, an exclusive 12-seat, reservation-only sushi restaurant, on Monday, March 20 in Montrose.
“We are thrilled to introduce Oheya as our newest restaurant here in Houston, where we’ve received so much support from the community over the years,” said Oheya partner chef Tyson Cole.
Taking over the space that previously housed coffee bar Southside Espresso, neighboring Uchi at 904 Westheimer, Oheya will offer two experiences per night, at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., priced at $175 per person, with sushi-bar seating only. The name, which translates to “the room” in Japanese, reflects the intimate omakase room experience, and plays off of Uchi’s moniker, which means “home”.
While Uchi’s omakase experience has long been an option for Houstonians, Oheya will offer something different and unique. The menu will change monthly, led by a different Hai Hospitality chef each time, in collaboration with Uchi Houston’s in house talent, chef de cuisine Stephen Conklin and head sushi chef Kevin Le.
“By combining their respective experiences and techniques, the collaborative chefs at Oheya will create one-of-a-kind menu items with innovative yet traditional dishes that complement the beloved classics at neighboring Uchi,” explains Cole. “This initiative will allow guests to engage with Hai chefs from all over the country, introducing new flavor combinations, while experiencing an entirely new menu each month.”
Hai Hospitality restaurants are known for having a flair for the modern, in their food, design, and overall approach, and Oheya will be no different. With it, the brand aims to continue its philosophy of creating food with purpose and intention. Both hot and cold dishes, with a focus on hyper-seasonal and hyper-local ingredients, will grace the menu. Guests can expect to see multiple nigiri courses, along with dishes incorporating vegetables and proteins, highlighted at the peak of their season.
While cocktails won’t be offered at Oheya, guests can explore plenty of wine and sake selections, some exclusive to the restaurant. Beverage pairings, including all sake pairings and all wine pairings, will be an option for $75 per person.
Much smaller, and far more intimate, the look of the space differs from Uchi too. The former coffee shop has had a complete transformation, led by Ellen Saathoff, the Director of Design of Hai Design Studio, Hai Hospitality’s in-house design team. The simple but chic interior boasts custom millwork, with all focus drawn to attractive place settings neatly displayed at each seat. The settings, made up of custom charger plates and one-of-a-kind ceramics, are appropriate vessels, brought forth by local and national artists, for showcasing the colorful courses.
Houstonians looking to try Oheya’s inaugural menu are in for a treat. The first collaborating chef to helm the kitchen is Uchi Miami’s executive sous chef, Cristian Canencio. With the brand for four years, Canencio is one of Uchi’s tenured chefs who draws inspiration from his Latin-American background. “His approach to food, while rooted in French techniques, is thoughtfully elevated by his use of Asian ingredients and unique flavor combinations,” says Cole, singing his praises. “He has proven himself to be an outstanding showcase of talent.”
Who will follow Canencio remains a mystery, but guests can keep up with the news of Oheya’s guest chefs and its grand opening next week by following its Instagram page, and by way of Hai Hospitality’s newsletter. For now, reservations are available on Oheya’s website, and will be released at noon on the 15th of every month for the following month, moving forward.