Two popular chefs in Austin, Texas, are teaming up to create an Asian smokehouse, Loro, that will open April 4, blending Asian flavors with Texas barbecue.
Tyson Cole, chef and founder of Uchi, and Aaron Franklin, pitmaster and owner of the acclaimed Franklin’s Barbecue, have created a menu with Loro chef de cuisine James Dumapit that layers Southeast Asian flavors with traditional Texas barbecue, a spokesman said.
Loro was created as part of Hai Hospitality, the restaurant group that includes Uchi and Uchiko in Austin, Uchi in Houston, Uchi and Uchiba in Dallas and a soon-to-open Uchi in Denver.
"The complex flavors of Southeast Asian food, ranging from the acidity in citrus, to heat from a variety of spices, to all the clean fresh flavors of the herbs, create a balance that is the perfect counterpoint to the richness of smoked meat," said Cole in a statement.
Loro’s menu will be divided into snacks, starters, sandwiches, rice bowls, plates and sides. The entire menu is available throughout the day with the exception of the Smoked Beef Brisket, which is available only at dinner.
"You can come in and order a sandwich and a side for yourself or order a few things: a bowl, a sandwich and a few sides and plates and share everything. … No Rules!”
Guests will order food and beverages at the bar, seat themselves indoors or outside and then have their order delivered to their table. The outdoor seating is shaded by a canopy of hundred-year-old live oak trees. Customers can visit the bar to refill orders. To-go service will be available and encouraged, a spokesman said, with a separate pick-up area at the bar.
The chefs said highlights of the Loro menu include: Candied Kettle Corn with burnt brisket ends topping; Oak-grilled Snap Peas served with a kimchee emulsion; Crunchy Sweet Corn Fritters coated in celery leaf batter with Thai herbs including galangal powder, lime juice and fish sauce; dry-fried Chicken Karaage dressed with sweet chili gastrique and topped with fresh herb salad and spicy aioli on the side; Char Siu Pork Shoulder marinated in soy hoisin oyster sauce and fermented bean curd then roasted and grilled for a glazed caramelized finish; and Smoked Beef Brisket, a dinner-only dish that is marinated in Nuoc Mam and Thai gastrique and finished with herbs and chili oil.
Franklin said he was excited for Loro’s opening. "It is where I would be hanging out with my family, if I weren't already here working," said Franklin, whom the James Beard Foundation honored in 2015 as Best Chef: Southwest.
Loro’s design was inspired by the historic dance halls of the Texas Hill Country near Austin with broad timber trusses that create a large dining space. It was designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture in collaboration with interior designer Craig Stanghetta of Ste. Marie Design.
Loro offers 1,850 square feet of dining inside from a 2,150-square-foot kitchen. The outdoor patio covers about 3,450 square feet, and the restaurant seats about 300 indoors and out.
Cole and Franklin plan a ticket-only preview party on March 29 to benefit No Kid Hungry, the national non-profit organization dedicated to feeding children in the United States.
Uchi was named a 2016 Breakout Brand by Restaurant Hospitality’s sister Informa publication, Nation’s Restaurant News.
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