In what was perhaps the most high-profile closure of the year, chef Paul Qui pulled the plug on his namesake restaurant this fall. Now, after granting a sneak peek at the restaurant's replacement, Qui and team have set a date for the opening of highly anticipated Kuneho: January 2, 2017.
Ahead of the grand opening, Kuneho is offering the public a chance to attend exclusive preview seatings December 27-30. Kuneho will showcase a limited selection of menu items each night, and those who attend the previews will earn guaranteed entry into a New Year’s Eve celebration featuring a special menu, entertainment, and a champagne toast.
With Kuneho, Qui is going back to his roots and specializing in Japanese dishes (Qui trained under Uchi's Tyson Cole and was executive chef at Uchiko). The format includes entrees and shareable dishes, but it heavily emphasizes sushi, pinxtos, and "perfect bites."
"At Kuneho, you can experience comfort and complexity in each perfect bite. From shared plates to a full sushi bar, our menu offers an approachable dining experience that we want to offer our community," says Mia Li, chef de cuisine, in a release.
Qui and his team worked with local firm A Parallel Architecture to create four separate but cohesive spaces in the restaurant: dining area; sushi bar; outdoor patio; and cocktail lounge, named The Borough. The latter will focus on innovative mixed beverages for both the seasoned connoisseur and the casual drinker.
"The concept for our cocktail menu should relate to those who want to experiment with the nontraditional while sharing common ground with the classics and staying true to the seasons," says general manager and beverage director Andrew Grenz. "We're excited to play around with numerous techniques to showcase various flavors and aromas, all for the final product of a balanced cocktail."
The past year has been a busy and tumultuous one for Qui. The local celebrity chef opened two new concepts in Austin — well-received Otoko and a brick-and-mortar version of Thai-Khun — in addition to Pao in Miami. However, he garnered national media attention when he was arrested on assault charges in 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.
Kuneho's hours will be Sunday through Thursday, 5-10 pm, and Friday and Saturday, 5-11 pm. In addition to dinner service, the space will be available for private parties and events. Those interested in attending the preview dinners can email email@example.com for more information.