UPDATE 1-27-2020: The restaurant is now open and the sizzle is on.
A new restaurant is coming to Plano with loads of sizzle. So much sizzle, it's right in the name: Called SizzleIt, it's an Asian-fusion restaurant that will serve its dishes on a sizzling fajitas-like platter.
The restaurant is opening at 1820 Coit Rd., in the space formerly occupied by beloved coffee spot Java & Cha, which closed in 2018.
SizzleIt comes from Anthony Tseng, whose parents are from Taiwan and have opened a number of restaurants in South Texas.
"The concept is very much a do-it-yourself dining experience," he says. "At Chipotle, they have a line where you order food. Instead, we have a sizzling hot plate. You place your order — our biggest item, 'The Classic,' is going to be beef pepper rice with Angus ribeye — so we'll place it on a platter with rice, corn, and green onions, and it comes to you sizzling."
Once you get your order, you can sauce it up yourself from selections that include house soy-garlic, honey-garlic, sriracha, and ginger sauce.
"Each sizzling hot plate favorite comes sauced with our signature house sauce, but we always recommend adding extra sauces to your liking that we provide at the table," Tseng says.
Tseng, 32, became familiar with Dallas after having attended the University of Texas at Dallas. He's worked in and out of the restaurant industry, including the corporate offices of Dave & Buster's and WingStop. SizzleIt is his first independent venture.
"I came across a similar concept in Japan, and that's what inspired me," he says.
His sizzling plates are a little like a portable version of teppanyaki, the Japanese technique in which food is cooked on an iron griddle. SizzleIt chefs will put the ingredients on a heated plate; as it makes its way to the table, it keeps cooking and emerges with the aroma of the food and the sound of sizzling.
(Is this a good time for one of The Onion's funniest items? At least, it was funny in 2008. It's called "Restaurant Patrons Entranced By Sizzling Order of Fajitas.")
If you're scared of all that sizzle, each plate is enclosed by a logo'd splashguard, to save you from burning yourself on the pan and to keep the sizzle contained.
Every dish features a protein of some sort, such as chicken breast, salmon, shrimp, and tofu. They come with an unusual standard set of sides that includes corn, green onions, and rice.
While the technique is Japanese-inspired, the menu incorporates other cuisines, including Chinese, Taiwanese, Asian-fusion, and American, the most outrageous example being a dish called the "Cheezy Baconator," with thick-sliced cuts of bacon covered in mozzarella cheese with corn, green onions, and garlic butter.
Shrimp pepper rice, which he calls "Tasty Tails," is unique in that it comes with egg that forms a kind of frittata. There's also "The Veggies," a vegan option with mushrooms, onions, tofu, green beans, and carrots, and plenty of gluten-free dishes.
Non-sizzlers include curry udon and five-spice chicken rice, a Taiwanese dish with fried chicken and basil leaf.
Tseng created his concept with an eye towards cost and convenience.
"The average dish takes three to five minutes, and everything is under $10," he says. "We want to be affordable but also high quality."
While the basic menu is compact, he'll rotate in specials such as a sriracha corn dog, pineapple buns with barbecue pork, and matcha Rice Krispie Treats.
Construction is underway on the space — he had to install a kitchen — and he hopes to be open this fall.
He treasures the spot because he has history with it.
"I used to go to Java & Cha when I was in college, and it brought back memories," he says. "When the space became available, I immediately agreed to it. Java & Cha used to be the hang-out spot. I thought, maybe I can revitalize it. I wanted to bring light back into central Plano."