keep it like a secret

Rising star chef teams up with Houston's most intimate Japanese restaurant

Rising star chef teams up with Houston's most intimate Japanese eatery

Hidden Omakase Billy Kin Niki Vongthong
Chefs Billy Kin and Niki Vongthong. Courtesy of Hidden Omakase

One of 2021's most exciting new restaurants has added even more culinary firepower to its lineup. Chef Niki Vongthong has joined the team at Hidden Omakase.

A veteran of restaurants such as Uchi and Aqui, Vongthong grew up in the family that owned legendary Houston Thai restaurant Asia Market. She will work alongside Hidden Omakase chef-owner Billy Kin in the intimate, Galleria-area restaurant

Kin explains that he had an opportunity to sample Vongthong's food during an omakase pop-up she held late last year. Impressed, Kin offered her a job. Hiring Vongthong will allow the restaurant to serve a wider variety of nigiri throughout its signature, 12-course tasting menu, according to a release.

“When Chef Billy reached out, I thought it was cool because we shared this same vision," Vongthong said a in statement. "We like this style of dining as well. And cooking-wise, we have the same Japanese background.”

During the pandemic, Vongthong started the Sen pop-up to serve Thai boat noodles and other street fare. In addition to her experiences locally, she's also worked at a Japanese restaurant in Bangkok and staged in Spain after culinary school. 

Hidden Omakase currently offers two seatings Thursday - Saturday with occasional seatings on Sunday. Seats book almost immediately when they're released at midnight two weeks in advance, and the process of securing a coveted slot likely won't get any easier with Vongthong on board. Still, dedicated diners may want to set a late night alarm or two. The partnership should produce a memorable experience.

“I’ve always loved the omakase style of dining, because it’s more intimate and there is more interaction between the chefs and the guests," Vongthong added. "Omakases are kind of like having a dinner party at home. Mi casa es tu casa.”