Oishii tailors dishes to customers’ tastes

Tri scallop sushi with crab mix, tempura flakes, truffle oil, sushi rice base, torched scallop, spicy mayo, eel sauce and black tobiko. Page 12: The 45 Roll with shrimp and tempura flakes topped with a crab meat and avocado mixture. Sliced salmon drizzled with a spicy fish sauce and microgreens finish.

Oishii is fusion. Salmon and tomato. Pico de gallo on scallops. The Cowboys roll features shrimp tempura asparagus, blue cheese and seared beef tenderloin.

“Thanh will say things along the lines of ‘I’m making food for the people that come into our restaurants,’” says Bryan Dobbins, director of operations. “We want to tailor the menu to the taste of those people who come in, instead of being that chef that builds their food and says like it or leave it.”

Executive chef and owner Thanh Nguyen once noticed vegetables on a particular dish weren’t being eaten as plates were being brought back from the kitchen. That upset him for two reasons. One, the customer was losing out on the full flavor combination. Two, it was simply wasteful. So he decided to change how the vegetables were cut and incorporated in the dish. Then he stood near the returning plates and watched to see if that had impacted consumption.

Nguyen worked at Nakamoto and Steel, before buying 2525 Wycliff from a woman who was operating a Vietnamese buffet in the space. He opened Oishii, Japanese for ‘delicious,’ in the unassuming strip mall in 2003.

There were only a few tables, and it was one of Dallas’ best-kept secrets.

One longtime customer and his wife stumbled into the restaurant years ago and no one was in there.

“So they went out and started telling all their friends, because they were afraid the restaurant wasn’t going to make it,” Dobbins says. “And he said, ‘You know, 15 years later, and it’s like gosh, I wish I hadn’t told so many people, because now I can’t get in.’”

After 17 years of being a one-location restaurant, Oishii opened its second location on SMU Boulevard in January 2020. One year into the pandemic, they opened a third location in Plano, and they’re already looking at opening a fourth. 

“The purveyors are all the same, the same delivery process, the same preparation, so you’re always going to receive innovative and fresh food,” Dobbins says.

Oishii, 8448 Parkwood Blvd.,

Oishii Restaurants

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