A new restaurant from a critically acclaimed sushi chef has opened in Deep Ellum: Called Tatsu Dallas, it's an edomae-style restaurant from chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi, located in the recently renovated Continental Gin Building at 3309 Elm St., and it opened on May 25.
Hailing from the Saitama prefecture of Japan, Sekiguchi — known by his clients as Chef Tatsu — is a fourth-generation sushi master who excels at traditional, Edomae-style sushi; edomae-style means the seafood is either cured, preserved, or aged, a classic style that predates refrigeration. At Tatsu, he'll offer an omakase sushi experience in an intimate setting with seating for 20 or less.
Sekiguchi is opening Tatsu with partner Matthew Ciccone, a former financial guy who relocated to Dallas from New York, and wanted to bring something special to town.
"When I moved here in 2018, I felt like there was a need for something like this and reached out to Tatsu, expecting that he might share the name of a young chef that would be interested in coming to Dallas," Ciccone says. "But it turned out he was interested. He'd already been here, looking at locations with the idea of opening a restaurant here. I've done well in my career, and felt motivated to re-invest that money into the local economy and give an artist like Tatsu a platform."
Sekiguchi was inspired to come to Dallas after an analysis of his customers at his New York restaurant revealed that the majority of out-of-town guests were from North Texas.
"It was serendipitous," Ciccone says.
The experience is indulgent, yet exactingly designed, with 15 to 18 courses: one to two appetizers, 13 to 15 pieces of nigiri sushi, miso soup, a handroll, and a light dessert. Service lasts precisely one hour and forty-five minutes, and diners are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes before their reservation time.
Diners are also asked to limit or skip any heavily scented perfumes, colognes, and body lotions. "Smell is an integral part of taste and we want you and the guests around to have the best experience possible," they say.
They're open Tuesday-Saturday with two seatings a day: 5:30 pm and 7:45 pm, and Sundays at 11:30 am and 2 pm.
They'll do kosher, dairy-free, and gluten-free options with 48 hours notice, but no vegan options.
COVID delayed their progress by more than a year but they used the time to absorb local culture and neighborhoods, which led to the location they chose.
"We originally looked at the Design District, but could not find anything that suited us," Sekiguchi says. "But we were drawn to the Continental Gin building with its rich history. My family first opened a restaurant in the late 1800s, and that's when this building was built. We left exposed brick to maintain that connection to the building's history, and it is also reminiscent of my previous restaurant in New York's West Village."
In the interim, Sekiguchi offered private dining in people's homes and familiarized himself with local food suppliers including organic produce from Dallas Farmers Market, which he'll use on the menu. Sustainability is key. For example, he'll use bluefin from Mexico, not Japan, due to its massive decline after overfishing.
"I'm motivated to stay as local as possible, and local seasonal produce will be the focal point in our appetizers and desserts," he says.
The experience will cost $170, which in this realm is a reasonable price.
"We were hoping to do $150, but like everything else, costs have climbed," Ciccone says. "It's a rare opportunity for a fine-dining experience with a chef of this caliber who's bringing his culture to Dallas. We want it to be accessible."