Restaurants / Openings

Houston’s Swank New Sushi Palace Opens With Two Days of Sake and Tuna Partying — Azumi Comes Out Full Barrel

Adding More Trendy Fun to River Oaks District

BY // 07.01.24
photography Jonah Tijerina

Another opening, another party. Now that the swirl of nonprofit fundraisers has petered out for the summer in Houston, restaurant openings are filling in for social butterflies who have not flitted off to cooler climes. Most recently was Japanese and sushi fine dining restaurant Azumi in River Oaks District.

This swank new Houston restaurant opened literally with a bang over two nights of partying thanks to the traditional sake barrel breaking ceremony.

The 160-pound bluefin tuna, flown in from Japan that morning, is broken down by chefs at the opening of Azumi in River Oaks District. (Photo by Jonah Tijerina)
The 160-pound bluefin tuna, flown in from Japan that morning, is broken down by chefs at the opening of Azumi in River Oaks District. (Photo by Jonah Tijerina)

The ceremony which symbolizes prosperity and new beginnings in Japanese culture was conducted by Atlas Restaurant Group founder and CEO Alex Smith, who was in from the restaurant group’s headquarters in Baltimore and Michelin-starred executive chef Timur Fazilov. In January, Atlas brought Fazilov on board as concept chef of Asian cuisine overseeing several of the group’s restaurants. Also making the trek to Houston was Atlas Restaurant Group managing partner and co-owner Eric Smith, Alex Smith’s brother.

Lance McLeod, Kristi McLeod, Frank Billingsley, and Kevin Gilliard
Lance & Kristi McLeod, Frank Billingsley & Kevin Gilliard at the opening of Azumi in River Oaks District.

While the barrel breaking was festive, the breaking down of a 160-pound bluefin tuna took center stage. The beast had been flown in from Japan that very morning providing lucky diners the freshest of the fresh sliced cuts of akami, o-toro and chutoro. Partygoers spread throughout the 80-seat dining room and bellied up to the 11-seat sushi bar and the 20-seat cocktail bar as waiters buzzed through with bite-sized servings of Azumi menu highlights such as crispy rice, beef tenderloin, spicy rock shrimp, and chicken gyoza.

The full menu features selections of nigiri, sashimi and maki, complete with one-of-a-kind culinary experiences that include hibachi, robata and teppanyaki presentations. The impressive sushi program at Azumi is complemented by a hot kitchen serving authentic Japanese entrees.

Bailey and Simon Haidamous
Bailey & Simon Haidamous at the opening of Azumi in River Oaks District.

Azumi is located next door to Loch Bar, Atlas Restaurant Group’s first restaurant in River Oaks District.

PC Seen: Jeff Bagwell, Lesley and Washington Ho, Paulina and Jim McGrath, Carrie Brandsberg-Dahl, Frank Billingsley and Kevin Gilliard, David Thomas, Courtney Zavala, Katherine Whaley, Adrian Dueñas and Marcelo Saenz, Bailey and Simon Haidamous, Edward Sanchez, and Bruce Banta-Guevara and Oscar Banta-Guevara. 

Discover Weber Pellet Grill at Bering's
SHOP NOW

Featured Properties

Swipe
X
X