Food & Drink
First Look: San Antonio’s Nineteen Hyaku
In an airy new space on 1900 Broadway, the refined simplicity of midcentury-modern Japanese design and cuisine meets Texas hospitality and smoky flavors
Photo: May Carlson
Push through the bustle of the main drag of Broadway, slip between the grand limestone columns of a twelve-story building, and you’ll find a portal out of Texas at Nineteen Hyaku. Twenty-five foot ceilings and giant windows flood the open space with natural light. Marigold tiles pop against natural textures like floor-to-ceiling sheer linen curtains, raw steel, refinished stone, and concrete. Nearly every detail, including the tiling, light fixtures, wallpaper, and shelving, was made by the hands of craftsmen across the world—but the fluted panels of white oak, which envelop the sushi and drink bars, come from West Texas.
“We were in awe of how grand the space was when we first walked in,” says Houston Carpenter. He and his wife, Emily—directors of the San Antonio-based Carpenter Carpenter Hospitality group—initially came to scout out the rooftop of the stately tower for their fifth restaurant concept, but they ended up falling in love with the bright corner space on the ground level. Curating the design and menu of Nineteen Hyaku, which opens on September 27, carved a path to a new and exciting addition to the culinary scene of their homeplace. “There’s great Japanese and sushi in San Antonio,” Houston says, “but something this scale and level of hospitality didn’t exist before.”
Named for the Japanese numbers representing the address of the restaurant, Nineteen Hyaku is a meticulous study in midcentury Japanese design philosophy. Designer Alegra Volpe scoured pages of art books from the forties to the sixties, pulling inspiration from images that celebrated the country’s minimalist, clean aesthetic. Embracing the concept of wabi-sabi, a belief that “effortless harmony of asymmetry and roughness are at play,” Volpe sourced handmade details from across the world: weightless but voluminous Akari light fixtures from the iconic Japanese designer Isamu Noguchi; ceramic pendants by artist Natalie Page; flowing black vines on Japanese paper by artist Kelly Porter of Porter Teleo.
“It was important to our team that everything sourced was rooted in quality and craftsmanship and not from a big-box store,” Volpe says. “Whether the vendor was in Japan, New York, London, or Austin, we worked hand in hand throughout the entire process.”
Below, a first look at the restaurant.
Made of honed natural limestone, the exterior of Nineteen Hyaku sits at the corner of 1900 Broadway in the Pearl neighborhood in San Antonio.
In the bar beyond the main dining tables and sushi bar, floor-to-ceiling white linen curtains nod to traditional Japanese noren curtains.
Natalie Page’s ceramic pendants hang above the bar, which serves sake, wine, beer, and cocktails inflected with Japanese flavors.
A staircase featuring Porter Teleo’s hand-painted wallpaper.
Alongside sushi, Nineteen Hyaku’s menu stars crispy tempura, Japanese and Texas wagyu, spiny lobster, and duck soba (above).
A plate of nigiri. Counterclockwise from far left: avocado, akami tuna, king salmon, kampachi (greater amberjack), hiramasa (yellowtail amberjack), toro (tuna belly), and oyster mushroom.
The kitchen focuses on robatayaki, a Japanese cooking method that employs a traditional charcoal-fired robata grill. “You get that nice smoky char,” Houston says.
Oysters dressed with Japanese plum mignonette with shiso oil.
The Nineteen Swizzle (Dripping Springs vodka, matcha, calpico, lime) and Yuzu Lady (Joto yuzu, yuzu gin, egg white, lemon).
San Antonian Ruben Pantaleon, chef de cuisine, behind the sushi bar.
A plate of sashimi.
The Nineteen Hyaku team.