Tonight marks a new chapter in the Austin restaurant world, as acclaimed — and embattled — chef Paul Qui opens his newest concept, Kuneho, in the same East Sixth space where he shuttered his flagship restaurant Qui last fall after a domestic assault arrest.
Per Eater Austin, the menu, created with the help of chef de cuisine Mia Li, focuses on Japanese small plates with Texan and Filipino influences; think rabbit hand pies, trout roe migas, and uni toast with lardo. Also in the lineup are kimchi and Velveeta eggrolls, sushi made with 30-day-aged beef tongue, bibimbap, and sisig, a popular Filipino dish made with pig’s head. (Scope out the full menu here.)
As Eater Austin notes, the restaurant’s name, which is Tagalog for rabbit, comes from a signature rabbit dish that was served at Qui (though it does not appear on the menu at Kuneho).
Anyone who’s been to Qui will feel right at home, as the interior has retained many of its original features — in fact, it appears little more has been done than slapping a fresh coat of black paint on the ceiling and installing a shiny new white top on the sushi bar.
The transition from Qui to Kuneho marks an attempt at a fresh start for the Top Chef season nine winner, who was arrested for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend back in March 2016 and did a brief stint in rehab shortly thereafter. But it’ll remain to be seen whether a new name will be enough to make Austin diners forget about that highly publicized incident.
Qui opened his namesake eatery in 2012 with the help of his Top Chef prize money, and it quickly found favor with critics and diners, garnering nods from national publications such as GQ and Bon Appetit. Prior to opening Qui, the chef snagged a Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest for his role at chef Tyson Cole’s Uchiko.
Qui is also behind three other Austin concepts: sushi bar Otoko, Japanese street food truck East Side King, and East Side King Thai Kun.
• Say Goodbye to Qui and Hello to Kuneho [Eater Austin]
• Embattled Celebrity Chef Paul Qui Plans an Austin Revamp [E]
• More Openings News [E]