We have to hand it to Ramen Tatsu-Ya owners Tatsu Aikawa, Takuya Matsumoto, and Shion Aikawa — they know how to keep a secret. For months, restaurant gossips have been speculating on what they were doing with the outdoor area next door to their 1600 E. Sixth St. noodle shop. Turns out — surprise — it’s a brand new concept.
On December 7, the team introduced the newest addition to the Tatsu-Ya family, a patio bar and food truck called Domo Alley-Gato Tatsu-Ya. According to a release, the outdoor space will first welcome customers with a soft opening on December 8, 9, and 12 before celebrating its grand opening on December 13.
The concept was inspired by the two staples of Japanese nightlife: tachninomiya and yokocho. Commonly found near commuter train stations, tachinomiya are standing bars beloved for their sociable atmosphere and affordable prices. Although yokocho date back to post-World War II, the ramshackle pub-filled alleyways have become increasingly trendy over the past few years, attracting a new generation of hip concepts.
Working with design studio McCray & Co. (Kemuri Tastu-Ya, Lenoir, Taco Flats), the Tatsu-Ya team decked out the entryway with rows of white and red lanterns and a monumental lucky cat shrine made by Blue Genie Art Industries. An assortment of booths and standing tables beckon guests further inside.
“We wanted to create an immersive environment where people can relax, enjoy unique drinks and food, and feel as if they stumbled into the back alleys of Tokyo,” says Aikawa in a release.
As with those Japanese back alleys, drinking is Domo’s main focus. The group’s beverage director Michael Phillips has created a menu featuring Japanese-inflected cocktails, sake, frozen beer foam boilermakers, and chu-hi highballs, a take on Japan’s popular canned shoyu-based mixed drinks built with house tonics.
Food, however, is not an afterthought. Karē Ban Ban, Domo’s patio kitchen, delivers a menu based around a 23-spice curry, used in everything from katsu to wings and pan hot dogs.
As for Tatsu-Ya’s other secrets, hungry Austinites will have to wait a little bit longer. Although Tiki Tatsu-Ya, the tropical takeover of the former Backbeat space, has been confirmed for a 2019 opening, another project at 7301 Burnet Rd. is still shrouded in mystery.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission filings originally referred to that concept as Dip Dip Dip Tatsu-Yu, but in October, Facebook and Instagram pages popped up at the address under the name Shabu Shabu Tatsu-Ya. Both have since been taken down and for now, and the team remains mum.