Fresh off a strong showing on the Food Network’s Chopped, Chef Ryan Andre has announced he and Chase Lyons—whom he previously worked with while the two were at City Pork—will open a new Asian restaurant in Mid City.
Soji will be located at 5050 Government St., near the intersection of South Foster Drive, in a building that was formerly home to a Rotolo’s Pizzeria. A group of local investors purchased the building for $675,000 last June and has spent the past few months renovating it for Soji, which is expected to open early this summer.
Lyons will be the proprietor of the restaurant, which will seat about 100 people and will include a patio bar, while Andre will be executive chef and partner.
Menu details are still being worked out, but Lyons says he and Andre do not want to put their cuisine in a “box” and are shying away from identifying with any single Asian cuisine. Instead, Soji will serve several taste profiles from across Asia, he says, adding the menu will not be a fusion of cultures.
“We don’t really want to create a new cuisine,” Lyons says, adding the duo is considering lunch, dinner and late-night service, but has not finalized plans. “We would like our customers to get a taste of the whole continent of Asia at our restaurant and not have to leave Government Street.”
Andre will put his own unique twists on all the flavors of Asia, Lyons says, adding the duo believes the new concept will be a welcome addition to Mid City.
“I thought that was something that was missing from that neighborhood, Asian cuisine,” he says.
Lyons co-founded City Pork, but left the hospitality group in May 2016 to pursue new opportunities. Andre is the former executive chef of City Pork Brasserie & Bar. He left the restaurant group in October after three years with the company.
On the “Pork on the Brain” Chopped episode that aired Tuesday evening, Andre put his Asian cooking skills on full display. While the Vietnamese dishes he cooked in the first two rounds of the competition placed him in the finals, he ultimately stumbled in the final round with a dessert crêpe.