After several weeks of unrelenting rainstorms with unforgiving humidity, the clouds finally parted for one of the most highly anticipated pop-ups this summer in Dallas. Austin’s celebrity chefs and dynamic duo Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue) and Tyson Cole (Uchi), traveled up the Interstate 35 corridor to give Dallas a sneak peek of the popular Asian smokehouse LORO.
The pop-up was located directly in front of the massive standalone building being constructed to house this new culinary collaboration on Haskell Avenue in Old East Dallas. The building, with its high ceilings and what looks to be an enormous outside covered patio, will be a welcome addition to the gentrified area 2 miles east of downtown Dallas. I remember living in this neighborhood just a few blocks away in the early 2000s. I would sleep on the floor some nights for fear of catching a stray through my window. So as I strolled through to the gates with my golden ticket for entry in hand, I couldn’t help but hum the theme song to the classic sitcom The Jeffersons. Moving on up, to the east side! Finally got my piece of the pie!
Even before you see that place, you are greeted with one the warmest welcomes to greet any Texan — the smell of smoked meats. My nose quickly guided me to the sleek silver trailer with limited menu items already prepped and ready to be devoured. Now I know about Franklin’s James Beard Award-winning barbecue with its mouthwatering brisket and fall-off-the-bone legendary ribs. And I also know fellow James Beard Award-winning Tyson Cole of Uchi was made famous for his sophisticated Japanese cuisine with a rotating seasonal menu that makes every experience better than the last. But what I didn’t know was how the two would tag-team to create a new dining experience this side of the Red River.
The preselected menu presented was smoked flank steak dressed with shishito pepper salsa verde, cilantro, pickled onion and Franklin’s smoked sausage all on top of a bed of coconut-scented rice. Although the food didn’t come piping hot out of a kitchen and was lying idle under the heat lamp of the sun, everything was brilliant. The sausage was exceptional.
The standout, however, was the smoked flank steak. This thin sheath of magnificent meat was super-charged with a fantastic robust smoky flavor, which overpowered anything the shishito salsa was contributing. Flank steak is one of the leanest of cuts and can easily be rendered inedible if it's even barely overcooked or sliced into too quickly. But of course, these masters of meat had the process down to a science. The steak was cooked to absolute perfection with smokiness on the outside and a pink center. The coconut in the rice wasn’t domineering with potent aromatics.
Franklin was there chatting up Dallasites taking pictures and thanking everyone for coming by. They hope to open in July.
Great food will make you try a restaurant, but great service will ensure your return. Franklin has won many notable awards and accolades for his cooking, teaches a MasterClass on barbecuing and looks like an extra from the movie Grease, but he really is a stand-up guy. Maybe that's why the culinary gods cleared the rain in the forecast for this event to happen.
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