Scott Haas, general manager of Japanese-inspired restaurant Nikko, said when the business opened in 2023 in Southlake, the owners wanted to create a unique space.

“They saw the opportunity to bring a type of quality sushi to the area that you would have to go to Dallas, Houston or Austin to get,” Haas said. “I love ... showing people they’re getting an experience they can’t get anywhere else.”

Meet the chef

Sunny Ko is the executive chef. He has been a chef for 22 years and worked with a team of Michelin-starred chefs.

“Our customers have a lot of experience with Michelin-star restaurants,” Ko said. “They come and eat my premium Omakase, then they know my experience. They say, ‘Your sushi tastes like a Michelin-star restaurant.’”

Terms to know

Although Haas has worked in the restaurant industry for 12 years, he said working at Nikko has presented a learning opportunity.

“I did not know a thing about Japanese restaurants,” he said. “I always thought it was hot and cold sake but you have Junmai Daiginjo [premium sake] and Junmai Ginjo [sake that is a pure rice wine] and you have to know the Japanese translations for this. We take pride in knowing that.”

On the menu

Popular menu items are Smoked Hamachi Carpaccio, which is an item listed in the Cold Tasting section of the menu, and grilled octopus found under the Hot Tasting options. Ko said the lobster roll is one of his top-selling rolls.

Haas said that in addition to serving delicious food, they spend time creating visually appealing meals. He said Ko will add flowers, rocks and little tree branches to dishes as well as large ice cubes imprinted with the Nikko logo to decorate some sashimi platters.

“In Japan, it's very important that when you’re eating something it's also a work of art,” Haas said. “Our artist, the chef, is creating that.”

Also of note

Haas said there are many regular customers who often need a larger table than their previous visit because they brought people to introduce them to Nikko.

“It's not just running a bar or restaurant, it's knowing your community and coming in and seeing the same people,” he said. “It's like you’re making friends.”