On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Niki Vongthong joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Hidden Omakase. Among Houston's toughest reservations to book, the Galleria-area restaurant serves a 15-course, Japanese-inspired tasting menu to fewer than 20 diners per seating.
The conversation begins with Vongthong recounting her roots in the hospitality industry via Asia Market, the acclaimed Thai grocery store and restaurant. After culinary school, she worked at restaurants such as Straits, Uchi, and Aqui. Although she participated in creating omakase menus at both Uchi and Aqui, the chef says she really fell in love with the format during her time working at a Japanese-inspired restaurant in Thailand.
"That was my first experience of opening an omakase, Japanese-style restaurant and using Thai ingredients as well," Vongthong says. "I love this style of dining. I love bites. I love snacks, tapas-style dining. I like serving it, too, because it's all about that perfect bite.
Listen to the full interview to hear more about Hidden Omakase and what Vongthong's future plans are.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Matt Harris discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: thoughts on attending the filming of Top Chef's night market challenge; Houston's James Beard Award finalists; and award-winning pastry chef Jordi Roca opening a gelato shop in Houston.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Harris and Sandler share their thoughts on Flora, the newly opened Mexican restaurant. They're impressed by the restaurant's attention to detail but note a few small areas for improvement.