Yakitori Bar

Japanese izakaya restaurant sticks skewers and sake in Dallas' Cedar Springs

Japanese izakaya restaurant sticks skewers and sake in Cedar Springs

Izakaya Roman
Izakaya will have grilled meat on skewers. Courtesy of Izakaya Roman

A new izakaya-style restaurant is coming to Dallas' Cedar Springs neighborhood featuring a chef with a local following and more than 30 years experience. The restaurant is called Izakaya Roman and stars chef Koji Aoki, known best for Sushi Zone, his restaurant in Arlington, which closed in 2012 after more than 10 years.

The restaurant will open at 3211 Oak Lawn Ave., in the location recently vacated by the short-lived District 30, a restaurant with a bizarre saga that closed in late 2017.

According to manager Thien Nguyen, Izakaya will open in June.

"Chef Koji was inspired by the idea of doing traditional Japanese cuisine, and we thought it would be fun to do an izakaya," Nguyen says. "The menu won't come out for another week or so, but he has it in his head."

What's in Koji's head: sushi, sashimi, sushi rolls, and yakitori.

"We'll have ramen and bento boxes, especially at lunch when people are on a tight schedule," Nguyen says. "But our main feature will be the yakitori bar, a traditional bar with hardwoods and charcoal where we'll grill meats and vegetables."

They'll stay open until midnight every night, and feature a bar whose primary influence will be Japan. "It'll be mainly sake and Japanese drinks and Japanese beer," he says. "We will serve some familiar top brands with single malts, whiskeys, rum, gin, but we are focused on Japanese beer and sake from precincts in Japan."

Before District 30, this location was briefly home to Bite By Eddy T; and Kin Kin before that. Cyclone Anaya's, the Houston Mexican concept, was there for seven years, and left behind some stunning slate tile on the patio. The Izakaya team is unconcerned about what came before them. Fortunately, they're keeping the slate.

"The name 'Roman' came from our chef, it means socializing, bringing everything together into one, bring everyone together to unify them," Nguyen says. "We're coming at it as a new entity, whatever happened in the past is in the past."