TAMPA — When Eric and Adriana Fralick closed the doors of their acclaimed modern Japanese restaurant Noble Rice in 2020, they knew it wasn’t a goodbye forever.
In the meantime, the couple remodeled the small space in Hyde Park and opened Koya, an upmarket tasting menu-only concept. Despite the pandemic, this restaurant has been incredibly successful, with reservations for the coveted $275 per person seating often booking out within minutes.
But the plan was always to bring their flagship restaurant back in some form, somewhere else. Now Noble Rice is open again, with an expanded food and drink menu and a much larger footprint.
The new restaurant opened April 5 at 615 Channelside Drive, Sparkman Wharf. It’s the latest location to open in the burgeoning Water Street Tampa development, which is set to welcome a long list of new bars and restaurants over the coming year.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new spot before you go.
Perhaps the most notable difference between the flagship restaurant and Noble Rice 2.0 is size. The original restaurant in Hyde Park was much smaller. (Koya now has an eight-seat bar, which fits nicely into the space.) The new restaurant is approximately 2,600 square feet and includes two bars — a traditional setup facing a long wall of Japanese whiskeys and a nine-seat separate omakase bar. , where diners can soak up the experience of a curated chef’s table.
Decor is sleek and modern, with blond and dark wood accents, plush seating, and dark teal bar stools. In the coming months, the restaurant will add outdoor seating, which is currently under construction.
Chez Koya is a two-person show, with Eric Fralick behind the sushi bar serving diners and Adriana handing out expert wine and sake suggestions.
The couple have temporarily closed the restaurant to open Noble Rice, and for the next few weeks they will be staying put to make sure things pick up speed. But after that, it’s back to Koya, a dining experience that won’t work on its own.
Meanwhile, the owners have tapped husband and wife duo Frank Anderson and Rebecca Ambrosi to run the show at the new restaurant.
Anderson, the executive chef of Noble Rice, was most recently the creative culinary director of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Prior to that, he ran the kitchens of Los Angeles restaurants Son of a Gun and Animal, among others. Ambrosi, who oversees operations as the new restaurant’s general manager and bar manager, previously managed both the front of house and kitchen for the Plum VIP lounge, also at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
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Although similar in concept to its predecessor, the dining experience at Noble Rice is distinct. For one thing, the menu covers a lot more ground and includes a long list of nigiri and sashimi as well as appetizer-style sharing plates, ramen bowls, grilled entrees, and desserts.
As with Koya, Fralick buys most of its fish (around 95%) directly from the Toyosu market auction in Tokyo. Customers can expect the same high-quality selections, including otoro bluefin tuna (silky, fatty cuts), hokkaido scallops, uni (sea urchin), and kanpachi (amberjack). A selection of maki (rolls) includes the Negi Toro, which features fatty tuna, scallions, tobanjan kewpie and black garlic shoyu ($25); the King Salmon, made with shrimp chips, chives and smoked shoyu ($18); and the Mango Jack, a combination of kanpachi, pear, avocado, lime, mango and a ponzu nikiri ($18).
A long list of zensai (small plates to share) includes dishes like fried tofu with smoked salmon roe, served with maple soy sauce and smoked paprika oil ($22); shishito peppers glazed with a tamarind sauce, brown sugar, habanero peppers and served with Lady Edison country ham ($20); and jumbo shrimp with yuzu kosho butter and shishito kanzuri ($28).
At the original Noble Rice, the restaurant only offered beer, wine and sake. Now, with a full liquor license, customers can expect an equally impressive wine and sake list, available in cans, glass and bottle, as well as an extensive selection of Japanese whiskey.
Signature cocktails, all $15, include the Irigomai Tai, made with light and dark rum, sesame seed orgeat and curacao; Hibiscus 75, a mixture of Roku gin, hibiscus syrup, lemon and sparkling wine; and the Toki Highball, made using a Suntory highball machine, which dispenses Suntory Toki whiskey and club soda.
Several beers are offered by the can including Sapporo Pure, Jai Alai and Kyoto Match IPA. Beers on tap include Sapporo, Asahi and Coedo Shiro (a Japanese Hefeweizen) and Coppertail Brewing Co.’s Free Dive IPA.
While Koya is still the upscale restaurant, there are a few ways to kick it up a few notches here as well. For the chirashi and sashimi plates, it is possible to order the chef’s classic or premium versions. (The premium sashimi selection includes 10-12 pieces of the best daily cuts for $75.) Evening omakase service is offered at the omakase chef’s bar for $150 per person, and fans of A5 BMS Japanese Wagyu can get a strip of 2 ounces of the coveted steak for $80, served with Japanese sweet potatoes and chimichurri.
For those really looking to splurge, the $150 caviar service will net a 1-ounce serving of Golden Osetra caviar, served with Yukon Gold mochi and herb-citrus labneh.
If you are going to
Noble Rice is located at 615 Channelside Drive, Suite 112, Tampa. Reservations can be made through Tock, with a $15 deposit per person at explorestock.com/noble-rice. The restaurant is open for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.