Fantasy island

Uchi alums spill details on Austin's anticipated Asian restaurant — opening soon

Uchi alums spill details on Austin's anticipated new Asian restaurant

She's Not Here Soft Shell Crab
She's Not Here's soft shell crab is served with heirloom tomato, cauliflower, shallot, and Thai basil. Photo by Nicolai McCrary

Details about one of Austin's most anticipated dining projects have finally been revealed. She’s Not Here, a new Pacific Asian restaurant and bar, will open in late summer at 440 W. Second St., the former home of long-running tapas bar Malaga.

The concept, first introduced with a mixed beverage permit filing and a few mood board images on social media, comes from Ben Cachila and Chris Romero, Uchi alums and two of the partners behind East Austin Chinese restaurant Old Thousand. According to a release, the atmosphere is meant to evoke the French Art Deco atmosphere of early 20th century hotel lobbies with spray-painted flora from local street artist Mez Data adorning the exterior facade.

Inside, the dinner menu continues the tropical theme with playful riffs on traditional pan-Asian flavors. Hawaiian saimin noodle soup is served in a beef tip and clam broth and topped with a chili marinated egg and chicken confit. Tasmanian ocean trout gets a punch from passion fruit and crown daisy, a leafy green popular throughout Asia. 

Heartier appetites will likely gravitate towards braised-fried Korean chicken with yuzu-pickled pears, summer squash, and toasted chili oil or Korean-style ribs with a double dose of garlic from pickled cloves and a glaze.

She’s Not Here offers a more casual experience for lunch with grab-and-go bento boxes like a panko-crusted chicken katsu sandwiches with egg and cheddar; toasted sesame onigiri (now you finally have the chance to use the rice ball emoji); and bossam pork belly rolls with seasonal pickles. Austin’s vegan population is well taken care of with a large selection of plant-based and gluten-free sushi.

Although the restaurant is still finalizing the cocktail menu, it will heavily use Pacific Asian flavors such as makrut lime, jasmine, and roasted coconut with spirits such as hibiscus rye, aged rum, and applewood-smoked mezcal. A rep for She’s Not Here tells CultureMap that the final cocktail menu will be released within the next few weeks.

The restaurant will be open 11 am until midnight on most days and until 2 am on Friday and Saturday. If you can’t wait until late summer for a taste of She’s Not Here, the restaurant will be one of the participating eateries at the 2nd Street District’s annual White Linen Night on August 4.