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A raw fish dish in a tart.
The bluefin tuna tartare tart at Craft Omakase.
Craft Omakase

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Uchiko Alums Unite to Open Their Own Omakase Restaurant in Austin

Craft Omakase debuts in December with nigiri, dry-aged fish, and sake cocktails

Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

A new Japanese omakase is opening in Austin this December, run by three former staffers of popular restaurant Uchiko. Craft Omakase will open at 4400 North Lamar Boulevard, Suite 102 in the Rosedale neighborhood on Wednesday, December 6.

Before embarking on Craft Omakase, co-owners and co-partners Charlie Wang, Nguyen Nguyen, and Tim Boyer worked at Uchiko for eight, nine, and 12 years, respectively. Both Wang and Nguyen had been head sushi chefs, while Boyer worked front-of-house positions. Rounding out the Craft team is general manager Julianna Fry, who worked at Sushi|Bar ATX with Wang and previously had been the bar manager of Kemuri Tatsu-ya and shuttered Eastside Showroom.

The trio had been wanting to open a restaurant of their very own, self-funded without any bosses or investors. The fact that the restaurant is within blocks of their former employer is just a funny coincidence. During the planning process, Wang and Nguyen would joke that “if Uchiko doesn’t work out for us, maybe we’ll open a restaurant down the street,” Wang tells Eater. “I guess when you put it out into the universe, it throws it back to you.” He continues: “We’re literally in the shadow of the biggest sushi restaurant in town,” but what they’re doing is different service-wise since it’s only omakase. And the North Lamar location and space was perfect for what they wanted to do.

An oyster dish.
An oyster dish at Craft Omakase.
Craft Omakase
Someone holding up a niece of sushi.
Prepping a nigiri piece at Craft Omakase.
Craft Omakase

The name Craft Omakase is intentional. “In fine dining, we noticed this pattern where price points increased because everything increased,” says Wang, “yet the level of execution and service didn’t increase along with it.” That’s why they wanted to operate as a small team and be involved with every aspect of the restaurant and its operations. “We want to focus on the craft,” he says, “the basic fundamentals of every single element of fine-dining, not just the food but the service.”

Boyer echoes that sentiment. “We really feel humbly confident that we can provide our guests with a one-size-fits-one experience,” he says. Their collective previous restaurant experiences trained them well when it comes to higher-volume dining, but it made Boyer realize he wanted something different. “It lit a desire in me to be able to slow down and provide our guests with a really handcrafted customized experience.”

The three have built Craft Omakase with five foundational principles: balance, comfort, seasonality, technique, and, as Wang describes, “the most important part,” tradition. Of the latter, Wang explains how “in the modern era of Japanese foods, there’s so many things going on on top of the dish.” Instead, at Craft, they want to make sure that they’re not doing that. “We don’t want to make the food to a point where we’re losing the essence of what Japanese cuisine is,” he says.

A Japanse omakase dining room.
The omakase dining room of Craft Omakase.
Craft Omakase
A bar.
The lounge of Craft Omakase.
Craft Omakase

That ethos is spread throughout the 20-course meal that includes nigiri, raw tastings, cooked dishes, and a dessert. There’s also a dry-aged fish program. Drinks include sake-based cocktails like the Paola with prosecco, thyme, and lemon; and the Hachiya Akarui with persimmon, hibiscus, grapefruit, and migori. There are also sakes, wines, and beers. During recent preview meals, the team made items like bluefin tuna tartare atop a nori tart, madai crudo, and nigiri like hirame, hotate, and wagyu.

Craft Omakase’s physical space includes a back-of-the-building entrance with an entry lounge for the bar where guests check in and receive welcome cocktails. Patrons are then ushered into the 12-seat omakase dining room, where they’re greeted with cute cat chopstick holders and cat plates for the oshibori.

The meals are $175 per person with a la carte drinks. Reservations can be booked online. There are two seatings per night at 6 and 8:30 p.m. from Wednesday through Sunday. 24 guests per night with seatings of 12 people.

Chefs in aprons.
The Craft Omakase team.
Craft Omakase

Craft Omakase

4400 North Lamar Boulevard, Suite 102, Austin, Texas 78756 (512) 887-8889 Visit Website

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