PaperCity Magazine

September 2018- Dallas

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154 THE RATHBUNS TAKE VICTORY O ne step into the new Pan-Asian restaurant Imoto proves that Victory Park is on the brink of a new era. While the moody lighting and thumping music will make the W Hotel crowd feel right at home, Imoto is signature Kent Rathbun. Imoto marks a new chapter for chef Rathbun, the four-time James Beard Award nominee. It's his first venture since he parted ways with Abacus and his former business partner. "I've had a number of really awesome, successful restaurants," he says. "But I feel like I'm getting the restaurant I really wanted to have all those years." It all goes back to when Kent first set foot in Buddha Bar in Paris, the restaurant/nightclub that served as key inspiration for Imoto. "What was striking to me was the way I felt there," he says. "It was such an exotic location that it easily could have been in New York, Istanbul, Tokyo — anywhere in the world." He loved how the restaurant progressed into a late-night scene as the hours went by, something he plans to replicate with Imoto's upstairs lounge and bar. Imoto's opening signals another venture long in the making: This is the first restaurant he's opening as a majority partner with his wife, Tracy Rathbun, who co-owns local favorites Shinsei and Lovers Seafood & Market. With their shared love of good food, travel, and design — and their ability to communicate with simply a look — they make a formidable duo. "If you can raise a 15-year-old together, you can do anything," says Tracy. Interior designer Brant McFarlain executed the Rathbuns' vision for the space, resulting in a sexy, blend of Asian antiques, commissioned sculpture, and thoughtful details such as bar-fronts made of Shou Sugi Ban wood, a Japanese pine sealed through an elaborate blowtorching treatment that replicates the look of matte-black alligator skin. Nobu veteran Jimmy Duke leads the sushi bar; chef Jennifer Newbold (formerly of Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen) mans the range. The Pan-Asian menus of seasonal, shareable plates take their cues from Thai, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, and Japanese cuisine. While the Rathbuns clearly have seafood locked down, they take pride in sourcing Texas Wagyu beef (the hot rock is a must-order), as well as vegetables and herbs from local farmers. Many ingredients come from the Rathbuns' Devonshire home garden — everything from shishito peppers to lemongrass, kaffir lime, and at least four different kinds of basil. When the restaurant opened earlier this summer, it was just about time to harvest the Rathbuns' heirloom tomatoes. "It's been my best garden year yet," Kent says. "There will be a solid week or two where my tomatoes will be all over the menu." Imoto, 2400 Victory Park Lane, 214.257.7777, BY LISA COLLINS SHADDOCK. PHOTOGRAPHY SCOTT HARBEN, RAM SILVERMAN. One of Imoto's signature sushi rolls Kent Rathbun Design details at the bar

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