On this week's episode of What's Eric Eating, proprietor Jason Andaya and chef Man Nguyen join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to preview Hando. Slated to open in early December, the restaurant will serve sushi hand rolls (temaki) in an intimate, 24-seat space in The Heights.
Both men bring extensive experience to the project. Andaya worked in several restaurants in Houston before moving to Los Angeles and working for a restaurant group; similarly, Nguyen got his start working at restaurants in New Orleans and Savannah before eventually making his way to Houston and working at a number of restaurants in the Azuma Group, including Soma Sushi and Azuma on the Lake in Sugar Land.
Sandler asks about the decision to focus on hand rolls instead of other kinds of sushi. Andaya explains the decision centers on delivering the best possible experience to diners.
"For me, hand rolls are a completely different experience. The way we will serve them is they'll be coursed-out throughout the meal. If you order five, you would only have one in front of you each time, and the sushi chef would deliver the next one when you're done," Andaya says.
"This way, you're guaranteed the freshest product possible. The seaweed stays crispy, the rice is a little bit warm, and the protein isn't sitting at room temperature on your plate."
The interview touches on a number of other topics, including what sort of hand rolls the restaurant will serve, how dining in will be different than ordering to-go, and what the beverage offerings will be like. With a price point that's more affordable that traditional sushi restaurants, expect those 24 seats to stay full once the restaurant opens.
Prior to the interview, Fluff Bake Bar owner Rebecca Masson joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include New York Deli and Coffee Shop's plans to open a second location in Bellaire; Masraff's announcement that it will relocate to the Memorial area; and the significance of The Black Labrador Pub closing after 33 years in business.
In the restaurant of the week segment, the duo share their experiences at Politan Row, the newly opened food hall in Rice Village. Having visited on its fourth day serving diners, they find that some of the vendors are off to a stronger start than others.