Like all great things, securing a seat at Hidden Omakase requires some work.
First, you’ll need to find the restaurant: Concealed within the Galleria shopping mall, the speakeasy counter hides behind a storefront lined with old comic books. The second and hardest part comes after: You’ll need a reservation. And that’s no easy feat given that Hidden Omakase has been continuously booked up since it opened in January 2021.
Luckily for you, you’re reading From The One Who Keeps The Book, a regular series that aims to answer that most important of questions: How do I get in? The first answer is Resy, of course. But every restaurant manages its tables differently and there are always secret tips, tricks, and shortcuts to be discovered. So here, we go straight to the source to get them for you.
In this case, that’s Christina Truong, the director of operations at Hidden Omakase. Below, she divulges your best bet at snagging a spot at chef Billy Kin’s tantalizing take on the Japanese omakase, plus some breaking news on upcoming pop-ups and a brand new chef.
Resy: How many seats are there in Hidden Omakase?
Truong: We have 14 seats per seating time and two seating times per evening, one at 6:30 and one at 9 p.m.
When do reservations drop on Resy?
Reservations are released on Resy two weeks prior to the seating, on a rolling weekly basis at midnight.
How quickly do these get booked up?
Pretty quickly. We’ve had guests email us within the first hour that they haven’t been able to obtain a seating! At the launch, when we did our very soft opening, we were only open on Fridays and Saturdays, but we currently are open Wednesdays through Sundays. So that has allowed for a little bit more flexibility in being able to obtain a reservation.
Wednesdays are now held for our special pop-up omakases, where we’re allowing guest chefs to come in and create a version of what they feel is something new to the market that they’d like to test. Currently, we’re testing a vegan omakase. For this month and next, it’s with chef Martin Weaver. He was the former executive sous chef of Brennan’s here in town and of another sushi conceptual restaurant called Kuu.
So it’s impossible to walk in — you have to have a reservation?
That’s correct, no walk-ins.
Has anyone ever walked in expecting a comic book shop?
[Laughs] Actually we’ve had people walk in during lunch time hours as we’re doing staff meetings, looking to have actual lunch. But never for comic books, I don’t think. People do ask if we sell them in the back!
If someone were to set a Notify for Hidden Omakase on Resy, is there a certain day of the week that they’d be most likely to get a reservation?
I would love to say there is a specific day, but no. Opening up these new Wednesdays for pop-ups is going to be interesting to see — the interest and the difference and variance in bookings.
How long is your Notify list?
It’s fairly long from when I last checked! But what we do in addition to the notification list is if we have something that opens up, or if we know that we’re able to offer something, we utilize our social media platforms. We encourage our guests and followers to keep track by watching our stories on both Instagram and Facebook, where they’re able to see when reservations have been released. It’s another way to maintain engagement with our loyal guests.
Is there any other way to snag a seat?
Yes! If you are a party of five or fewer, reservations can only be made on Resy. But parties of six and more, or evening buyouts, is probably the best way to secure it. And this allows us to help accommodate different guests, different groups, and make sure we’re providing a customized experience.
Has the restaurant been bought out before?
Absolutely. We have one this evening: A family who visited before and is now bringing their entire family for a birthday celebration.
Houstonians, for that part, are very loyal. Once they find a spot and they like it, if [they’re] treated well, along with the “Southern hospitality” that we carry here in this industry… It’s a wonderful way to be able to build a relationship with our community.
Is it possible to be a regular at Hidden Omakase?
We absolutely hope to have that. That’s actually our goal. Hidden Omakase is a very intimate restaurant. When you walk in, there’s a beautiful U-shaped counter that allows for engagement. And that’s really what we want it to be, where you come in on a regular basis, know that there’s an always-rotating menu of fresh ingredients and conceptual ideas coming from our talented chefs, and being able to build a family of people and repeat guests who like to come here either by themselves or to celebrate with a group. We have a handful of return guests whom we’re super thankful and grateful for. The intimacy level and the experience of the restaurant allows for that to happen.
Can you share a good story that’s gone down at the door?
We get several calls a night [from guests] not being able to locate where we are. We don’t have any signage obviously, right? So it’s a pretty consistent, “We can’t find you!” and we’re always like, “Look for the comic books in the window!” That’s pretty much it. We lock the doors until the actual seating starts, and once that happens, we allow everyone to come in. It truly is a hidden omakase.
Let’s say I finally get a seat at Hidden Omakase. What can I expect?
You can expect a 12-course tasting led by our lead chefs. Stories of why those ingredients have been sourced, history, and facts behind the dishes. A well-groomed front of the house staff that welcomes you and hopefully makes you feel like our family. And a really intimate, experiential, and immersive type of dining. With no menu, we hope that we’re able to gage, read, and offer you something that you have or have not tasted before, but haven’t been able to find within the city. There’s a lot of great neighbors that offer sushi and omakase here, but what we hope to do is bring that kind of intimate and immersive dining experience to the Houston market. To open up their taste buds. Get to know different flavors.
What we’ve heard in the past is that we’re bringing a New York, Miami, or Los Angeles experience to Houston [laughs]. You know, Houston tends to be placed on the backburner, but we are definitely frontrunners in the culinary industry. It just hasn’t been properly relayed throughout the country. We’re a diverse melting pot. The amount and variety of foods and cultures you can experience here is amazing. And that’s why we wanted to open up a night where we can offer up a chef to provide a version of what their omakase would be.
And is chef Billy Kin always the one leading the regular omakase?
We recently released a press release where chef Billy Kin recognized the fact that women have often been placed on the backburner within the industry and haven’t been given the proper recognition. So he’s opened up the Hidden Omakase platform to a chef who’s been a rising star and is very well known within the industry: chef Niki Vongthong. This allows for a co-lead of the tasting experience. Not both of them are here, it’s either/or. We want to be the gamechanger.
Hidden Omakase is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook for last-minute seat releases. For parties of six or larger, email email@example.com.
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