The soon-to-open Shun Japanese Kitchen looks so fresh you'll think it's a film set. Artwork on the walls depict dragons, koi fish, and vibrantly colored flowers. That color is offset by wooden countertops at the bar and sushi station, and tan-colored booths.
Slated for an October opening, Shun (pronounced Shen) comes from Naoki Yoshida, who Houstonians may know from his time with the family-owned Nippon. He partnered with Nick Hill, who spent time at Triniti before it closed early this year, on this concept, which takes its stylish modernity seriously. With Shun, Yoshida wants to reintroduce the cuisine as it is today.
“My goal is to create traditional second-generation Japanese food with a Houston inspiration,” he said.
Part of this means bringing in lesser-known, but still authentic, dishes and methods of cooking, with a local Texas flare. For example, guests can expect a seasonal smoked fish—chef’s choice, of course–smoked with Texan pecan wood.
We're also likely to see ice cream on the menu, such as a combination of kabocha (pumpkin) and hojicha (smoked green tea).
While the full menu is yet to be determined, Yoshida’s vision is embodied in the logo and the name. The logo, a plum flower, is a traditional Japanese plant that blooms during the transition from winter to spring, while the name Shun means “within each season, the best time to pick something,” like an apple, pear, or plum, Yoshida said.
What this means is that the menu will rotate seasonally. And the 33-year-old chef wants a collaboration to take hold, where new items result from the natural experiences of those who want to contribute.
For an example of that, look no further than Shun's design. Hill's mom Sherry Tseng Hill created handmade Samurai-style masks that line the walls. Also, Yoshida personally hand-crafted all the wood in Shun, and he and his wife handpicked every napkin, pair of chopsticks, and dinnerware, all from Japan.
Ultimately, Yoshida wants to create a place where people can enjoy something they’ve never experienced before while still being able to detect some distinctly Houstonian touches.
“Everything here is different from any other other Japanese place in Houston,” he said.