Foodie News

Sneak peek: Justin Yu’s Oxheart unveils a new kind of artistry

Sneak peek: Justin Yu’s Oxheart unveils a new kind of artistry

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Karen Man adds the finishing touches to a dinner plate at Oxheart. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Chef Justin Yu and his funky Oxheart crew  Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Favorite dish of the night: Steamed Gulf oyster with cardoon and brown butter atop Snowball Cauliflower Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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And for dessert: A semi-sweet hazelnut and barley cake layered with carrot puree and sorrel  Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Meaty oxtail braised in beef fat with Umpqua Broccoli and seared mustard seeds Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Gulf sea snails, turnips, oxalis, yeast and chicken skin Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Karen Man’s pretzel bread: Firm on the outside, soft and warm inside, with a light dusting of salt Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Vegetable love: Caramelized carrots with bitter almond, buckwheat crackers, dill and whey Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Poached egg yolk with charred fava beans and lettuces, wild sorrel and buttermilk Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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A fantastic handful of Okame Spinach steamed over jasmine tea, shiro miso, grains and mushrooms Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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The much anticipated Oxheart opened this weekend for preview dinners, offering Houston diners a new form of culinary artistry.

Let’s call it Oxheartistry.

Oxheartistry is the attention to detail that the managing triumvirate of executive chef/owner Justin Yu, pastry chef/owner Karen Man and sommelier/general manager Justin Vann has given to every aspect of the place.

 Oxheartistry is the attention to detail that the managing triumvirate of executive chef/owner Justin Yu, pastry chef/owner Karen Man and sommelier/general manager Justin Vann has given to every aspect of the place. 

There’s the culinary catwalk of a countertop made from century-old reclaimed pine. And the industrial lighting, both striking and functional, that gives generously without overwhelming. Stunning earthenware, designed and made locally. And a diverse selection of vessels and creamers, sourced from Yu’s own mom’s collection. Even the bathrooms bear the unique stamp of a local graffiti artist.

But beyond all this, of course, is the food. Oxheart offers just three choices for your meal: A four-course menu of meats and vegetables, a four-course garden offering, and a seven-course tasting menu encompassing the chef’s favorites.

Yu’s previous Houston experiences have given us a glimpse of his style, gleaned from working in kitchens across the country and around the world, and while the opening night’s service wasn’t without flaw, it’s clear that this young chef has the ideas — and skills — to blow us away.

Full disclosure: I have a small financial stake in the restaurant, but Saturday’s preview dinner experience truly showcased why I chose to invest in the first place. It was the kind of space, place, and taste that linger well after the meal has ended — creative flavors, clever intertwining of textures, and everything with a local connection.

Yu answered my rapid-fire questions about the source of each ingredient with ease, Man presented and sold each dish with flair and Vann roamed the dining room offering pours and relative sophistication. But no need to take my word for it. Peruse the photos to see for yourself — artistry and Oxheartistry in the form of carrots, egg yolks, Gulf oysters, and oxtails; broccoli, sea snails, spinach, and bread.

Oxheart officially opens on Thursday. They’ll begin taking reservations by phone on Tuesday (March 13) at noon. Reservations will be available up to two weeks in advance.