Inside the little Tatsu restaurant in Dallas

Nothing about Tatsu, Dallas’ new omakase restaurant, is a secret. But everything about her feels like it should be.

Top sushi chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi prepares sushi at Tatsuo Restaurant in Deep Illum a week before the restaurant opens. Diners can take reservations now and the dining room opens May 25, 2022.(Elias Valverde II/staff photographer)

This small Deep Ellum restaurant does not have a menu and is not allowed to flip it. It’s a striking modern setting inside one of Dallas’ oldest commercial buildings, the Continental Jane Building, which dates back to 1888. This very new and very old venue can only host 10 people at a time.

The sushi chef of the same name, Tatsuya Sekiguchi, could have built a bigger sushi bar and mustered more people each evening. But it wasn’t going to happen.

“We don’t want it to be flashy or trendy,” says restaurateur Matthew Secon. Perhaps he blushed when we listed Tatsu as one of the most exciting Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants of the year.

“This will be Tatsu’s home,” Ciccone says. “There is only one Tatsu.”

Which means: there can only be one dining room serving food.

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At Ciccone’s insistence, Chef Sekiguchi and his wife Hiroko Sekiguchi left New York City in the middle of the pandemic and moved to Dallas. Sekiguchi is a fourth-generation sushi chef who recently worked at the Michelin-starred restaurant Sushi Yasuda. Ciccone loved this restaurant.

Their new restaurant in Dallas, which opens May 25, 2022, brings elements of New York City’s Chef’s Restaurant to the Texas home state of Ciccone. It is Sekiguchi’s next attempt to bring a Michelin-level restaurant to a country without any restaurant. (Michelin doesn’t publish a guide in Texas. Not yet anyway.)

“We hope to be one of the leading restaurants bringing Michelin to Texas,” says Ciccone.

Moved by Tatsu, Chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi has moved to Dallas from New York City.  raised...
Moved by Tatsu, Chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi has moved to Dallas from New York City. He grew up in Japan and is the fourth generation sushi chef in his family.(Elias Valverde II/staff photographer)

The owner and chef calmly trusts that the Omakas Tatsu experience will serve up sustainable fish in an elegant environment that emphasizes the reverence and respect for food.

Ciccone is stepping back from the “get it your way” model of fast food restaurants today — places that operate unsustainably and are driven by low prices rather than high-quality products. Instead of “Get what you want,” Ciccone says, “Let’s go back to the old way.”

Chef Sekiguchi’s method of preparing sushi is called edomae and uses 200-year-old techniques to preserve fish.

The lounge at Tatsu (not pictured) was meticulously decorated by the owner's wife Matthew Ciccone...
The lounge at Tatsu (not pictured) was meticulously decorated by owner Matthew Ciccone’s wife Stephanie Will via her design studio Boulevard Interiors. The dining room (pictured) is understated, which puts the focus on the food. (Elias Valverde II/staff photographer)

Ciccone is a vegetarian who never indulges in the raw fish that Sekiguchi prepares. Ciccone focuses on sustainable eating and appropriate portion sizes and says Tatsu can deliver both. Therefore, twice a year, he would allow himself to sample Sekiguchi food for a special occasion.

“No, maybe once,” he corrects himself.

That’s right: the owner of this Japanese restaurant will only eat here once this year, when it opens.

Diners should expect about 18 dishes of food, mostly raw fish, prepared by Sekiguchi and assistant chef Jon Griffiths right in front of them. They just bought a special freezer for tuna. Ciccone ordered him to be mid-pandemic, after the hospital didn’t need him to keep COVID-19 vaccines cold.

Dinner costs $170 per person, and an 18% service charge is added to each bill. Reservations are for one of two dinner shifts, at 5:30 or 7:45 p.m., and the meal is expected to take 1 hour and 45 minutes.

It is the second restaurant in Dallas to serve omakase within a small dining room. The unaffiliated Shoyo Restaurant opened in East Dallas in 2021.

In a private tasting in July 2021, sushi chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi presented some of the foods that...
In a private tasting in July 2021, sushi chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi introduced some of the foods he was going to make when he opened his restaurant Tatsuo the following year. This restaurant, in Deep Ellum, is now ready for a calm and confident start.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Getting to Tatsu seems like a secret, too: There’s no valet—which is a rarity in Dallas—because the Continental Gin Building has a large parking lot up front, off Elm Street. Diners will find tatsu on one side of the building, with the front door leading to an original 1888 wooden door art piece marked with street art.

After that small vestibule there is a lounge, then two rooms with sushi bars. They will not be used at the same time because, again: “There is only one Tatsu.”

And should we share the secret of the bathrooms? They have tutu toilets there, which is a (expensive) way of proving that this restaurant cares about its guests, wherever they are seated.

Indeed, Tatsu seems to have become the most amazing fine dining restaurant in Dallas.

Tatsu is located at 3309 Elm Street, Dallas, on the first floor of the Continental Jane Building. Reservation is required via Tock Payment is collected in advance. The restaurant opens on May 25, 2022.

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