TAMPA — When Eric and Adriana Fralick closed the doors to their celebrated modern Japanese restaurant Noble Rice back in 2020, they knew it wasn’t goodbye forever.
In the interim, the couple remodeled the petite Hyde Park space and opened Koya, a high-end, tasting menu-only concept. Despite the pandemic, that restaurant was met with incredible success, with reservations for the coveted $275-per-person seats often booking up within minutes.
But the plan was always to bring back their flagship restaurant 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, at Sparkman Wharf. It’s the latest spot to open at the burgeoning Water Street Tampa development, which in the coming year is slated to welcome a long list of new bars and eateries.
Here’s everything to know about the new spot before you go.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the flagship restaurant and Noble Rice 2.0 is the size. The original Hyde Park restaurant was much smaller. (Koya now features an eight-seat bar, which fits snugly in the space.) The new restaurant is roughly 2,600 square feet and features two bars — one traditional setup facing a long wall of Japanese whiskeys and a separate, nine-seat omakase bar, where diners can soak up a curated chef’s table experience.
The decor is sleek and modern, with blonde and dark wood accents, cozy booth seating and dark teal bar stools. In the coming months, the restaurant will add outdoor seating, which is in the process of being built now.
At Koya, it’s a two-person show, with Eric Fralick behind the sushi bar serving diners and Adriana doling out expert wine and sake suggestions.
The couple closed the restaurant temporarily to open Noble Rice, and for the next few weeks they’ll stay on site to make sure things get up to speed. But after that, it’s back to Koya, a dining experience that won’t run itself.
Meanwhile, the owners have tapped husband-and-wife duo Frank Anderson and Rebecca Ambrosi to run the show over at the new restaurant.
Anderson, Noble Rice’s executive chef, was most recently the creative culinary director at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Before that, he led kitchens at Los Angeles restaurants Son of a Gun and Animal, among others. Ambrosi, who is overseeing operations as the general manager and bar manager at the new restaurant, formerly managed both the front of the house and kitchen at the Plum VIP Lounge, also at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
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Though the concept is similar to its predecessor, the dining experience at Noble Rice is distinct. For one, the menu covers a lot more ground and includes a long list of nigiri and sashimi as well as appetizer-style shareable plates, ramen bowls, grilled dishes and desserts.
As with Koya, Fralick sources most of his fish (roughly 95 percent) directly from the auction at Toyosu Market in Tokyo. Guests can expect the same high-quality selections, including bluefin tuna otoro (silky, fatty belly 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, shareable plates) includes dishes like fried tofu with smoked salmon roe, served with a maple soy sauce and smoked paprika oil ($22); shishito peppers glazed with a sauce of tamarind, brown sugar, habanero peppers and served with Lady Edison country ham ($20); and jumbo prawns 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, guests can expect a similarly impressive list of wine and sake, available by the can, glass and bottle, as well as an extensive Japanese whiskey selection.
Signature cocktails, all $15, include the Irigomai Tai, made with light and dark rum, sesame seed orgeat and curacao; the Hibiscus 75, a blend of Roku gin, hibiscus syrup, lemon and sparkling wine; and the Toki Highball, made with the help of 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 draught include Sapporo, Asahi and Coedo Shiro (a Japanese Hefeweizen) and Coppertail Brewing Co.’s Free Dive IPA.
Though Koya remains the higher-end restaurant, there are several ways to kick it up a few notches here, too. For the chirashi and sashimi plates, there’s an option to order the chef’s classic or premium versions. (The premium sashimi selection features 10 to 12 pieces of the best daily cuts for $75.) A nightly omakase service is offered at the omakase chef’s bar for $150 per person, and fans of A5 BMS Japanese Wagyu can get a 2-ounce strip of the coveted steak for $80, served with Japanese sweet potatoes and chimichurri.
For those looking to really splurge, the $150 caviar service will net a 1-ounce portion of Golden Osetra caviar, served with Yukon Gold mochi and citrus herbed labneh.
If you go
Noble Rice is at 615 Channelside Drive, Suite 112, Tampa. Reservations can be made via Tock, with a $15 deposit per person at exploretock.com/noble-rice. The restaurant is open for dinner 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 5-11 p.m Friday and Saturday.