konichi wa kinokawa

Star chefs take Houstonians through new Japanese dual-concept journey in The Heights

Star chefs team up for dual-concept Japanese restaurant in The Heights

Billy Kin Brandon Silva Kinokawa
Chefs Billy Kin and Brandon Silva. Courtesy of Kinokawa

Two talented chefs are teaming up to open a new, dual-concept Japanese restaurant in The Heights. Billy Kin and Brandon Silva will soon unveil Kinokawa, Houston’s newest omakase eatery, and Tesseract, a casual izakaya.

Kin drew praise for Blackbird Izakaya, a Japanese restaurant in the Heights that closed last year. He opened Hidden Omakase in early 2021 before leaving the restaurant to its current chef Nikki Vongthong. 

Silva’s resume includes stints at Uchi and multiple stages across the U.S. and Europe. Earlier this year, he opened Degust, an intimate tasting menu restaurant, but left the restaurant in September. 

Silva tells CultureMap he contacted Kin after reading an Eater Houston article about the chef’s plans to open Kinokawa in the former Golden Bagels & Coffee space on White Oak. Although they didn’t know each other well, the chefs immediately bonded over their similar approaches to cooking. 

“It will be like John Stockton and Karl Malonoe, we’ll try to find some chemistry and present something that’s original, not too crazy, but it tells the story of him and myself,” Kin says.

“All the training I have across the world, this is something special that we can finally do together. We can do something really fucking fun and cool,” Silva adds.

Similar to Hidden, Kinokawa will serve a roughly 12-course, Japanese-inspired tasting menu in a room that only seats approximately 15 diners. Slated to open next month in the building’s main dining room, Kin says the menu will draw from techniques used in edomae sushi and utilize fish flown in from Japan. He sees Silva as the person who can help him elevate the restaurant further.

“For this concept, I want to create the same experience [as Hidden], introduce diners to something they’ve never tried,” he says. “Everything will be an overall experience from the food to the decor to the furniture. With Brandon on board, that will allow us to push the boundary as far as the culinary aspect.”

The bagel shop’s patio will be transformed into Tesseract, a casual izakaya concept that’s open for walk-in diners. Named for the inter-dimensional portal in the movie Interstellar, a mostly opaque wall will allow Tesseract diners to catch a glimpse of the tasting menu being served at Kinokawa. It won’t open until Kin receives a liquor license, which won’t be until early 2022.

Kin sees Tesseract’s menu as a simplified version of what he served at Blackbird, but adding Silva to the team opens up the potential for some more adventurous fare as well.

“Since Brandon is on board, maybe it will have a Spanish influence,” he says. “I’m sure whatever we come up with will be pretty awesome.”