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The world will soon get a taste of what happens when two of Texas’ best chefs combine their talents and minds.
Hai Hospitality’s Loro, a collaborative effort between Uchi co-founder chef Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin will open to the public on April 4, and we have the first look at the menu from the Japanese smokehouse from the two James Beard Award winners.
The casual restaurant located at 2115 South Lamar Blvd. will feature a menu divided into snacks, starters, sandwiches, rice bowls, plates and sides, with smoked and grilled dishes heightened by Asian flavor profiles serving as a major centerpiece. The restaurant will open daily at 11 a.m., closing at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (See the full menu below.)
“The complex flavors of Southeast Asian food, ranging from the acidity in citrus, to heat from a variety of spices, to all the clean fresh flavors of the herbs, create a balance that is the perfect counterpoint to the richness of smoked meat,” Cole said.
The snacks and starters have a variety of Asian influences, including togarashi-dusted kettle corn served with brisket burnt ends, oak-grill snap peas with kimchi emulsion and siracha powder, a Vietnamese kale salad with yuzu vinaigrette, and chicken karrage with sweet Thai chili gastrique and Szechuan peppercorns.
People likely will be the most excited about the hallmark dish of the collaboration between Franklin and Cole, the smoked beef brisket. The beef is marinated in Vietnamese nuoc mam and Thai chili gastrique and finished with herbs and chili oil. It will be served only at dinner, though the brisket finds its way to a sandwich with papaya salad, Thai herbs and jalapeno aioli served at lunch.
“That dish is probably one of the most literal combinations of our styles,” Franklin said.
Other entrees include Malaysian chicken bo ssam served with lettuce wraps and curry dipping sauce, Thai green curry sausage (also available on a sandwich), char siu pork shoulder, oak-smoked salmon and smoked turkey breast (a Franklin secret weapon) served with apricot gastrique.
“Aaron rubs it with black pepper and we use Korean chilies,” Cole said. “It adds a colorful component to it but it also – Korean chilies have this great, kinda smoky quality. They’re not very spicy but they have like a little hint of spice and a lot of savory character.”
Coconut rice bowls with proteins like crispy Szechuan tofu and grilled Malaysian chicken, along with an assortment of sides such as Texas sweet corn with miso beurre blanc finished with shiso and edamame round out the menu from the kitchen will be helmed by chef de cuisine James Dumapit, an Uchi alumnus and one of the founding chefs of Old Thousand.
The restaurant, full of natural light, patio seating and open space, was designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture in collaboration with interior designer Craig Stanghetta of Ste. Marie Design and inspired by the historic dance halls of the Texas Hill Country. That casual feel is complemented by counter-service and table delivery. To-Go service will be available and encouraged, with a separate pick up area at the bar.
Loro will give a preview to the public with a No Kid Hungry benefit on March 29. Tickets cost $100 and are available online.