‘Bromakase’ Is the New Steakhouse

If you’re looking for the moment when American omakase restaurants began to threaten steakhouses as the preferred venues for young men of means to commune around prohibitively expensive protein, you could do worse than the weekend of Jan. 8, 2021.

That’s when Joe Rogan walked into Sushi Bar ATX, in Austin, Texas.

“Best sushi I’ve ever had in my life,” he wrote in an Instagram post, which has 182,000 likes.

The comedian and podcaster had recently moved to town from Los Angeles. So had Phillip Frankland Lee, the chef of Sushi Bar, which he had opened as a pop-up, partly to stay afloat while his California restaurants were shuttered by pandemic lockdowns.

“I hope you decide to move here full time!” added Mr. Rogan, who has 19 million Instagram followers.

By the next morning, Mr. Lee said, the waiting list for Sushi Bar’s 10 seats was thousands of names long. Soon after, Mr. Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee, his wife and business partner, officially relocated.

Austin has since become an epicenter of omakase’s improbable rise into mainstream restaurant culture — making it, in Mr. Lee’s words, “the hottest concept in America right now.”

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