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First Look: Sushi | Bar Dallas

The restaurant opened in late 2023

The door opens. Inside, the vestibule looks like an old warehouse, with some sort of metal crane dangling above. The vibe is speakeasy, but speakeasy, this ain't. Within moments, we'll have some of the best omakase sushi in Dallas. 

"Welcome to a journey," Giuseppe Raucci, the general manager of Sushi | Bar Dallas, tells the ten collected patrons, waiting, drinks in hand. We're called by name, groups of two, and walk down a wooden staircase. We wait at the landing, another door opens, we're led down a hallway into another room, where three chefs wait. What follows is a 17-course omakase meal. 

Sushi | Bar was founded in 2020 in Austin, but the Dallas location, which opened late last year, is essentially the flagship. It's the first location that Sushi | Bar Hospitality built out specifically to suit its purposes, including the addition of a neighboring bar. 

The first course starts with tartare, but by the time we get to the second course — a melt-in-your-mouth scallop — I'm impressed. Deeply. A from-the-get-go green flag was Sushi | Bar's use of wasabi from Shizuoka, Japan. It's a small detail. I noticed. 

Sushi | Bar calls itself a modern sushi restaurant, which, in my experience, can mean a variety of things. Sometimes it's great sushi. Other times, it's sushi with too much added, like someone wearing too much cologne. The additions smoother flavors — masking the innate delicious flavors of the fish. This is antithetical of traditional sushi, which uses vinegar, wasabi and soy sauce to support and pull out flavors, not cover and combine them. 

"We pay our respect to Japanese sushi making," Raucci tells me later. "We do allow a great deal of creativity. And we want to break down the barrier between chef and guest." 

Typically, at sushi restaurants in Japan, the sushi chefs do not chat much. Now, don't expect, I dunno, Benihana-type showmanship. Instead, look forward to excellent knifework and skilled sushi making with warm, small talk. As he places piece after piece, the chef tells me he loves food writing, singing the praises of Jim Harrison's A Really Big Lunch. Nick Garcia, a familiar face formerly of another sushi restaurant in The Colony, pours the sake. And by the end of the evening, we are chatting with our seatmates. The dinner, and the experience, became communal. I love it. 

The meal is a crescendo, and topped off with a delicious dessert for the denouement. We shuffle out of the room into the adjacent bar, Ginger's, for a nightcap. It's a great idea, because right after a delicious meal, you and your date might want a drink. And here you go. We order a desert moon cocktail (Los Mago Sotol, pomegranate agave, blood orange, lime and tajin) and a zenicillin (Three Spirit Nightcap, ginger syrup and lemon).  

I spot Raucci, and he asks my thoughts. But here, at Sushi | Bar, all the modern spins on sushi, aren't distractions. They are supporting the fish's flavors, and even making them better. Fish is flown in overnight, fresh and then allotted according to reservations. But the modern spin is fun and clever. Take the kurodai that is topped with a little, cute Hatch chili — a fish taco, if you will. 

"We respect the fish tremendously," Raucci says. "We want the highest quality possible." But it's not just the fish that are held in regard. "We hold ourselves to the highest standards we can." And that isn’t just talk. You can taste it. 



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