When you bring together the culinary finesse of Hai Hospitality — which includes non-traditional Japanese restaurants Uchi, Uchiko and Uchiba — and a different type of culinary finesse that comes from the Czech-style Texas smoking of Franklin Barbecue, you’re bound to have a cuisine that’s bursting with flavor as well as a concept that’s ripe for expansion.
And indeed, that’s what you have with Loro Asian Smokehouse & Bar, a partnership between two restaurant heavyweights in Austin, Texas: Hai’s Tyson Cole and Franklin Barbecue’s Aaron Franklin. Together they have created a concept that showcases the state’s unique culinary melting pot.
“Before Loro, there was an immense mutual respect and admiration between Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin,” said Hai’s chief branding officer Amber Quist. “The two culinary masters were fans of one another and began exploring what a collaboration might look like that balanced Uchi’s fresh and clean flavors with Franklin’s bold, rich and smokey traditional barbecue, and so Loro was born.”
Founded in the spring of 2018, Loro offers the type of smart, globally influenced cuisine that is expanding the nation’s culinary boundaries. Dishes include smoked brisket or char siu pork belly with Thai papaya salad, Szechuan tofu over coconut rice and seasonal pickles, Japanese fried chicken, and oak grilled snap peas with kimchi emulsion, toasted sesame seeds and Sriracha powder.
“The boozy slushies are always a hit,” Quist added. “Also, the Loro burger [with red onion-brisket jam, Muenster cheese, lettuce and chile aïoli] has garnered stand-out press acclaim.”
The design of the original Austin location, by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture in collaboration with interior designer Craig Stanghetta of Ste. Marie Design, was inspired by the dance halls of nearby Texas Hill Country, with broad timber trusses overseeing a large and casual 1,850-square-foot dining space. It also has an outdoor patio of nearly twice that size.
“It is where I would be hanging out with my family if I weren’t already here working,” Franklin told NRN at the time of its opening.
It has been enough of a success that the team has opened locations in Dallas and Houston and plans are underway to open a fourth restaurant, in Addison, Texas, north of Dallas, later this year.
“We are excited to expand this concept, with a goal of opening three to five Loros a year,” Quist said. After Addison this year, she said they hope to open “a few more” restaurants in the region in 2023.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
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