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Huit restaurant to transform into Chino-Latino eatery

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Posted at 9:46 AM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 11:14:21-05

CINCINNATI -- Huit fans will be happy to know the shuttered restaurant on Court Street is on track to reopen soon with a brand-new name and concept.

Tobias Harris, Trang Vo and Eduardo Reyes own Huit, the cozy 40-seat restaurant known for its international flair with distinctive Asian roots. Starting Nov. 21, it will transform into Lalo, a Chino-Latino restaurant.

"Lalo will take the spirit of Huit and make it 'hotter' with a Latin spin," Harris said.

Lalo is named after Reyes, who is also the corporate chef. ("His nickname is Lalo," Harris explained.) They hope to open the week after Thanksgiving, Harris said.

In the last few years, Huit has served as a proving ground for the group to create their style of food and better understand their customers.

"We've always wanted to create a restaurant concept based on our creativity and love of eating," Harris said. "We started small and created several barbecue dishes that are unique and expressive."

Based on the knowledge they gathered, they decided to phase Huit out and instead launch two separate restaurants: Neuf, which opened in early November at 709 Main St., and soon, Lalo.

Asian, Latin cuisines intersect

The Asian vein runs through both restaurants, with Neuf specializing in “Asian soul food” and Lalo embracing a Latin edge.

Lalo's menu will rest at a vibrant intersection of Asian and Latin flavors with offerings such as chorizo pot stickers, chipotle chicken spring rolls and crab Rangoon queso fundido. Items that were popular at Huit will be brought back in different forms.

Tacos at Lalo. (Provided by Tobias Harris.)

"Lalo will feature Huit's 'drunken' series with a Latin vibe," Harris said. "Drunken" dishes at Huit -- such as the drunken brisket -- were prepared with the Chinese wine Shaoxing and served with rice or noodles. At Lalo, customers instead will be able to order dishes such as drunken brisket posole along with drunken brisket tacos, chicken curry tacos and burritos.

"We are not shy to bring back Huit's 'very drunken brisket noodle soup' in the wintertime to shine side by side with the lamb birria noodle soup, not to mention Lalo churrasco and our special chile relleno, Asian-style," Harris said.

Other new menu items include Kung Pao chipotle chicken salad and charro’s chili, Harris said, adding, "We might feature Beijing duck taco a few weeks after we open."

Popular dishes remain

Neuf offers popular Huit dishes such as kimchi ramen, laksa Bandung (west Javanese curry noodle soup) and the "drunken" entrees. There are also new items on the dinner menu, including Asian rib-eye steak, short ribs Mongolian barbecue hot plate and five-spice braised lamb.

While Lalo will not have a liquor license, there is one pending for Neuf. "As we prepare for the liquor license approval, we’ll start introducing small plates to our menu," Harris said.

While the group is still finalizing Lalo’s menu, Harris said he and his team are excited about this new chapter. Harris sees Huit's metamorphosis into two different restaurants as a natural progression of their original vision.

"We think it is time to branch out to encourage more creativity in our venture," he said.

Lalo

Address: 29 E. Court St., Downtown

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m.-midnight Saturday; closed Sunday. Lalo will accept reservations and offer delivery.

Information: 513-381-4848; Website: lalocincinnati.com (under construction)

Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO Digital. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? Connect with her on Twitter: @Grace_Yek.