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What's Eric Eating Episode 268
Meet the talented team behind Upper Kirby's inventive 'new Japanese' restaurant, plus hottest food news
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Money Cat chef-owner Sherman Yeung and chef de cuisine Jio Dingayan join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the new restaurant that recently opened in Upper Kirby. The conversation begins with both chefs discussing how they entered the culinary world and began working together at Katy's well-regarded Tobiuo Sushi & Bar.
From there, they turn to Money Cat. While the restaurant serves a full range of different kinds of sushi — including sashimi, maki, and nigiri — it also features creative riffs such as a tomato salad with cheese foam, chutoro toast, and tempura fried maitake mushrooms. As Yeung explains, he didn't want Money Cat to be a clone of Tobiuo.
"It's not traditionally Japanese. I play around with 'new Japanese,' where we draw a lot of inspiration from Japanese ingredients and techniques," Yeung says. "We're not adhered to Japanese. Chef Jio and I want to explore Asian culture. That's why I call it new Japanese."
Also worth noting is that Dingayan has a lot of responsibility for a 22-year old chef. Sandler asks him about leading a team of chefs who are likely older and more experienced than he is.
"The thing I project the most is compassion and empathy. You want to work with someone who tries to understand you through the good and the bad, and that's what I try to do with each one of my cooks," Dingayan says. "I think teaching humanity really shines a light on what we're trying to do. We're not just cooks. We're humans, too, and you should know who's cooking your food."
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Michael Fulmer discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: il Bracco owner Western Addition Restaurant Group opening Balboa Surf Club in the same Galleria-area shopping center; the imminent closure of Tex-Mex restaurant Spanish Flowers; and the opening of Bayou Heights Bier Garten with a barbecue menu created by chef Teddy Lopez.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Fulmer and Sandler share first impressions of Gatsby's Prime Seafood. They also discuss a recent meal at Home Slice Pizza, the Austin-based restaurant that opened in Midtown.