Front dining room at Uchiko Houston

Michael Hsu completes cosy Japanese restaurant Uchiko Houston

Hearths found in Japanese farmhouses informed the interiors of this restaurant in Houston, designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture.

Michael Hsu Office of Architecture used chunky timber batons to create a deep partition that frames the tiled reception area, creating the impression of a central hearth.

Wood lattice surrounding the entryway
A wooden lattice frames the entrance to Uchiko Houston

"Inspired by the central hearth of Japanese farmhouses, Uchiko presents a sense of intimacy with a central focal point, which feels both old and new," said the studio.

"The rough material is manipulated in a refined manner to create an unexpected arrival experience."

Warm neutral colours create a cosy atmosphere
Warm-toned materials create a cosy atmosphere in the dining rooms

The studio created this latest location for the Uchi brand as a sister concept – Uchiko meaning "child of Uchi" – after designing its space in Miami earlier this year.

Some of the design elements used in the South Florida restaurant were adapted for this counterpart, including a latticed screen around the entryway.

Wallpaper by Camille Warmington behind booths
Booths are lined with blue patterned wallpaper by Camille Warmington

Throughout the restaurant, warm tones of timber and Venetian plaster are found alongside cooler blues as in the banquette upholstery and patterned wallpaper by artist Camille Warmington behind the booths.

The same colour was used by local muralists Alfredo and Vera Montenegro to draw the eye up to double-height portions of the ceiling, which gently curve at the top.

Blue mural curves up towards mezzanine level
Murals that echo the wallpaper patterns draw the eye up to the mezzanine level

A mezzanine level overlooking the murals includes a private dining space with a bar and sushi bar inhabiting opposite walls.

Reclaimed walnut flooring runs through the two main dining spaces, positioned on either side of the hearth-like entryway.

Chef's table below blue fringe light
A chef's table sits at the centre of the restaurant

The room is also punctuated by a large private dining area, as well as a chef's table featuring a large, blue fringe light fixture.

White oak and cedar furniture, including custom banquettes influenced by the work of Brazilian modernist designer Jose Zanine Caldas, are enhanced with bronze and brass details.

A long sushi bar stretches the back of the space, with a linear light fixture above highlighting the performances of the chefs behind.

Custom-designed, cast concrete light shades by sculptor Brandon Mike and light design studio Warbach feature in the entryway and above the dining tables.

Long sushi bar with linear light fixture
A long sushi bar runs below a linear light fixture

"Bold design moves work with layered materiality to create a cosy dining experience," said the studio.

Uchiko Houston also has an outdoor patio and bar that adds to the already lively atmosphere of the Post Oak neighbourhood.

Patio area at Uchiko Houston
Uchiko Houston's outdoor patio adds to the lively atmosphere of the Post Oak neighbourhood

Michael Hsu founded his studio in Austin in 2005 and opened a second office in Houston in 2018.

His team converted a 1940s church into an Asian smokehouse earlier this year and has previously completed projects that range from a Texas Hill Country house to Shake Shack's headquarters in New York.

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