If you've wandered down to the outskirts of Deep Ellum, or have recently visited Monkey King Noodle Co., you may have noticed a sign for a forthcoming concept called Niwa Japanese BBQ. With an opening this fall, the concept aims to introduce Dallasites to the Japanese barbecue experience.
The restaurant will focus on yakiniku, an a la carte style of cooking where customers essentially create their own meals. As owner Jimmy Niwa explains, a pay for what you eat system and an ever-expanding menu is the crux of what makes the offerings so special.
“One important quality of yakiniku is that the menu can grow at any time because if it can be grilled, we can do it,” says Niwa. “Also, since our dishes are served a la carte style, it allows the customer to try a dish that they normally wouldn't want to order as their only dish (normal plated dish restaurants) since they will have multiple other dishes or will be sharing with friends anyways.”
Among the selection of meats available for grilling will be familiar beef cuts such as fillet mignon, Wagyu and ribeye, but Niwa plans to introduce offal cuts like intestines, as well as tongue and beef belly. Guests can also choose from other protein options like pork, chicken, cod, scallops and shrimp, in addition to items like a mushroom medley, spinach, zucchini and more.
Unlike buffet style dining, where customers pay a set price a vast selection of food, guests chose from a menu of dishes that range from $3-$15, with most averaging between $5-$7. With an average of $12-$15 for lunch and $20-$30 for dinner, meaning customers able to avoid options they don't want.
As for dessert, the restaurant will feature a whimsical Japanese treat known simply as coffee jelly, made with locally roasted beans from Full City Rooster.
“Coffee jelly could be thought of to Japanese as chocolate pudding is to Americans,” says Niwa. “Coffee jelly gives me this nostalgic feeling of being back in Japan. We've created a little twist to the normal dish that we hope everyone will enjoy.”
To cap things off is a cocktail program that will be run by bar manager Mark Kinzer. One signature cocktail will be the Niwatini, a mixture of Gin, Sudachi, Cocchi Americano Apertivo, grapefruit essence and cucumber. Guests will also be able to enjoy a selection of local and Japanese beers, as well as Japanese sakes, with future plans for pairings and tastings.
With a growing ramen scene throughout the metroplex, Niwa is confident that yakiniku style barbecue will be welcomed by Dallasites with curious palates.
“Yakiniku is huge in Japan and has already hit many Metropolitan cities along the coasts. I was shocked to learn that there are no yakiniku restaurant in the DFW area and the choice to open in Dallas was without question,” Niwa says. “Specifically, the Deep Ellum allows us to cater to all markets. Deep Ellum is continuing to develop while maintaining its soul and we knew right away that this had to be the location for our first yakiniku restaurant in Dallas.”
Construction is currently underway on the space at 2939 Main, with an opening slated for November.