The sounds of construction fill the air at the new MF Sushi. A veritable platoon of workers are busy hanging lights, cleaning up dust and fussing over the final details. Every step that's completed brings the city a little closer to the return of sushi master Chris Kinjo.
When Kinjo abruptly departed the original location of MF last October and announced plans to reopen a restaurant in Atlanta, some feared the chef might not find his back to Houston. Fret not; Kinjo is back in Houston and here to stay at a new space in a Museum District office building. "This is my baby," he says as he looks at the mostly-finished restaurant.
Fret not; Kinjo is back in Houston and here to stay. "This is my baby," he says as he looks at the mostly-finished restaurant.
Indeed, it's clear from the design that the new MF is both a dramatic improvement on Kinjo's original home west of the Galleria and designed to serve as a showcase for the chef's talents.
Walking past the bar into the dining room, patrons will be struck by the sushi bar. First, it's made with hinoki wood, a fragrant, luxurious-looking Japanese cypress. Second, the bar sits at the height of a regular table instead of a bar.
While both of those aspects are unusual, the one feature that truly sets the bar apart are its integrated fish cases that sit inside the bar rather than on top of it. Kinjo explains that the design will allow diners to watch MF's six sushi chefs prepare each piece of fish. For patrons lucky enough to snag one of its six seats, the chef will simply slide each dish across the counter without any awkward reaching. Even diners in the booths and tables that make up the other 60 seats in the long, narrow room should be able to catch a glimpse of the action.
While diners will notice the new design, they'll also appreciate the restaurant's expanded kitchen. Kinjo says the new MF will feature more cooked items. For the first time, he's planning to offer bento boxes at lunch to appeal to Museum District and Medical Center workers who need to eat quickly and at an affordable price.
Kinjo can't give an exact opening date. He thinks he needs a couple of weeks to finish up final detail like installing the booths, adding a rock garden between the dining room and the bar and building a small patio for people to sip sake or smoke. The restaurant also needs to pass its final inspections, but it won't be long.
"As soon as I have a C.O. (certificate of occupancy), I'm opening," Kinjo states.