Looks like Ramen Tatsu-Ya isn't the only famous Austin name making its way to Houston. Paul Qui, the Top Chef and James Beard award winner behind East Side King and the recently opened Kuneho, posted a photo to Instagram Sunday morning that appears to match a building being constructed at 520 Westheimer Rd.
Speculation that Qui would be connected to the space dates back to at least last March, when Swamplot posted the same rendering and noted that design firm A Parallel Architecture also designed Qui's namesake East Austin restaurant that closed last year and reopened as Kuneho. A Houston Business Journal article about the property only identified it as "a luxe Asian restaurant," but did not connect it to Qui.
The new restaurant will be located next to the popular Indian resturant Indika and near such noted restaurants at Uchi, Underbelly, and Dolce Vita.
Until Sunday, Qui had not commented publicly on whether he had plans for Houston, but that seems to have changed with the Instagram post. CultureMap has contacted his representatives for more information, and we will update this article when they respond.
According to a restaurant industry member who has spoken to Qui, the restaurant will be called either A Qui or possibly Aqui. Equally unknown is what kind of food it will serve: whether it's the same mix of cuisines as Kuneho, which offers sushi along with dishes that contain Thai, Filipino, and Korean influences, or will move in another direction.
Closing Qui and opening Kuneho came after the chef garnered national media attention when he was arrested on assault charges last March. Qui opened up to the Austin American-Statesman about his struggle with drugs and alcohol, and following a stint in rehab, he is looking to refocus his efforts as a chef and dedicate more time to his team.
That new focus has manifested itself in strong reviews for Kuneho, which opened in January. If the chef brings that same sense of purpose to Houston, local diners will be the winners.