Houston Restaurant’s “Whisky Wednesday” Deals Showcases Japanese Spirits

Toki Highball, Suntory Whisky and karaage.

International Whiskey Day is on March 27, and Aiko, the lauded omakase restaurant from Duckstache Hospitality at 1902 Washington, is celebrating with a series of Whisky Wednesday specials and giveaways. Starting on Wednesday, March 13 and every subsequentWednesday in March, Aiko is offering Suntory cocktails, Japanese whisky flights, light bites and chances to win a $200 gift card from 5 to 10 p.m.

A spread of sushi at Aiko. Courtesy photo.
A spread of sushi at Aiko. Courtesy photo.

Aiko, which means “love, fortune, child” in Japanese, made a splash on the Washington Corridor dining scene when it opened in May 2022 at the height of Houston’s omakase craze. It’s the third restaurant from chefs Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee, along with co-founders Andrew Lin and C.J. Short, and focuses on elevated Japanese cuisine and sushi. The chefs had previously worked together on Secret Taste, an exclusive series of omakase pop-up dinners, before opening Kokoro in Bravery Chef Hall and Handies Douzo — a temaki sushi bar which now has locations in the Heights and Montrose.

Oyster shooters at Aiko. Photo by Cindy Wang.
Oyster shooters at Aiko. Photo by Cindy Wang.

The restaurant, which was one of our “Best New Houston Restaurants of 2022”, features a sushi bar and seated dining in an upscale yet approachable atmosphere with impeccable service. The menu is seasonal and boasts a panoply of exceptional sashimi, nigiri, crudo, handrolls, maki and composed bites, with ingredients such Big Glory Bay King Salmon, hikarimono masaba (house-cured Japanese mackerel), Hokkaido uni, Japanese A5 Wagyu and multiple cuts of bluefin tuna. Two different omakases are offered at $55 or $95.

This month’s Whisky Wednesday specials are a great way for newcomers and regulars alike to grab a small bite before dinner and taste through an exciting lineup of Japanese spirits.

A Toki Highball machine. Photo by Fernanda Varela Photography.
A Toki Highball machine. Photo by Fernanda Varela Photography.

March 13 — Suntory Cocktails 

This Wednesday’s drink feature includes three different cocktails for $5 each using spirits from Suntory’s portfolio, including Toki Highballs a fizzy, refreshing classic made with chilled soda, Toki blended Japanese whisky and a twist of lemon; Roku Gin Sonics made with Japanese gin, club soda, tonic and a yuzu twist; Haku Vodka Lychee Martinis and Maker’s Mark Bourbon Sours.

For bites, there are $10 caviar (10 grams) and $8 karaage: juicy, ultra-crispy Japanese fried chicken bites named after a cooking technique of the same name. While the dish can be made from ingredients besides chicken, it’s most commonly associated with bite-size cuts of marinated chicken thigh dusted with a seasoned coating (potato starch, flour and rice flour are most common) and deep-fried. It’s pronounced ‘ka-RA-AH-geh’. Now that you know how to say it, you can impress your friends by ordering an extra round of these tasty nugs! 

Chicken karaage. Courtesy photo.
Chicken karaage. Courtesy photo.

March 20 — Japanese Whisky Flights 

On Wednesday, March 20, guests can taste through a special $50 Japanese whisky flight that includes four, 1-ounce pours of Suntory Ao Blended World Whisky, Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony, Suntory Single Malt Whisky Hakushu 12 Years Old and Suntory Yamazaki 12 Years Old aged in a blend of American, Spanish and Japanese Mizunara oak. $8 chicken karaage and $10 caviar will be available.

With every flight purchased, guests will be entered into a drawing to win a $200 gift card, with the winner being chosen at the end of the night.

March 27 — International Whiskey Day

The final event in the series will be the same as the previous week, with a $50 Japanese whisky flight featuring Suntory Ao Blended World Whisky, Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony, Suntory Single Malt Whisky Hakushu 12 Years Old and Suntory Yamazaki 12 Years Old.

$8 chicken karaage and $10 caviar will still be available. By this point, you should be slapping some caviar on each piece of karaage before popping ‘em into your mouth.

Once again, with every flight purchased, guests will be entered into a drawing to win a $200 gift card, with the winner being chosen at the end of the night.

Aiko is open daily for lunch from noon to 3 p.m., and for dinner Sunday through Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made through the website.

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