Steel Restaurant has been a staple of Oak Lawn dining for over 17 years. In that time, a number of upscale Asian concepts have popped up in Dallas, and even more have come and gone, but Steel still carries on, although not without some changes of their own. The most recent updates include a remodel of the interior, additions to the patio and a new executive chef, Tysun Thomas. Michael Chen, Steel's owner, realizes that staying relevant means adapting in a way that doesn't alienate Steel's longtime customers.
"We hopefully want to capture some new arrivals to Dallas, but also we have a lot of loyalty and guests who have come here for over 10 years," Chen says.
On opening night, the revamped Steel drew the variegated crowd that Chen hopes for. For repeat visitors, Steel's new look will feel familiar; the main dining space is warm and contemporary, and the large granite-topped sushi bar dominates the left side, with the sushi hidden out of sight below the counter to keep the look clean and contemporary. Large painted glass panels divide the back of the restaurant, which separates the cocktail bar and additional seating. For Chen, keeping the look familiar was a key goal.
"We try to keep the same atmosphere, warm and friendly," Chen says. "That's really our goal; we wanted to make things open and inviting."
Thomas' new menu had some impressive creations. In a unique twist to an old sushi standby, he updated the California roll by giving it a hot-oil sear to add crunch. The shrimp firecrackers, which will be a menu staple as part of a bento box, were stand-outs, and Thomas will add a tuna poke bowl later this spring.
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"He's very talented, and full of energy," Chen says of Thomas. "We're tasting and trying new things all the time."
That willingness to try new things while keeping Steel familiar to the regular crowd is a balancing act, but one Chen gladly takes on.
"We never settle, that's our motto," Chen says. "We want to be better and better."
Steel Restaurant & Lounge, 3180 Welborn Street, Dallas.