Anticipation has been growing for months regarding James Beard Award winner and Top Chef champion Paul Qui's plans for a new restaurant. Was he staying? Was he going? What kind of food would we love from him?
Last week, Serious Eats reported that Qui was overheard saying he signed a lease on South Lamar, so we celebrated his stay in Austin and wondered where exactly the new restaurant would reside.
On Monday, Eater released a full interview with Qui clarifying his statement (which he admits was made quickly and offhandedly), and it's better than we could have hoped in our wildest culinary dreams.
Primarily, his new yet-to-be-named flagship restaurant will actually live on East Sixth Street. His latest plan is to include a 50-seat family-style dining room ("probably 12-14 items, more family-oriented, with whatever I can get in Texas") and a separate 12-seat "sushi bar-style, but not a sushi bar" space with a distinct tasting menu.
"It's composed dishes and composed bites. I'm having trouble defining what it is, because I don't want to say it's kaiseki, tapas, or sushi," Qui explains. "I'm drawn to the interaction and instant gratification of having the people eat my food right away. I think I'm going to figure it out as I go along and as we build."
As for that rumored South Lamar location? Another East Side King!
In addition to the three trailers on East Sixth (at Liberty, Shangri-La and Grackle), Qui will be offering his popular gourmet trailer foods on South Lamar as soon as six months from now, followed soon afterward by a kitchen at the popular UT campus dive bar, Hole in the Wall.
The Hole in the Wall ESK will open with the same yummy menu items you love from Liberty (like those pork buns!), while the South Lamar location will get its own unique offerings.
According to Qui, the recently renovated Grackle trailer will also re-launch soon with a brand new menu of "Japanese street food that isn't that popular... like champon noodles and yaki udon."
So that's not one but three offerings from Austin's hottest chef, who is also consulting at Uchiko and spending his Top Chef earnings traveling and learning from the best chefs around the world.
"I just love [Austin]," Qui tells Eater, affirming his desire to stay here for the time being. "I don't want to say that I want to make it better, but I just think there's a lot of potential. There's a lot of people trying new things."