WAYA Japanese Izakaya at 6334 Gaston Ave. (Photo by Jaime Dunaway.)

Daisuke Mori worked in high-end restaurants in Hawaii for 10 years, but he always dreamed of opening a restaurant on the mainland. When he came to Dallas, the Tokyo native found a community hungry for more Japanese food.

In early November, Mori opened WAYA Japanese Izakaya at 6334 Gaston Ave. in the old Creek Cafe location.

“The Creek Cafe had some Japanese dishes, and customers wanted more of that,” Mori said. “Here in Dallas, there aren’t so many Japanese restaurants.”

At Waya, Mori and partner Kaori Kaji serve signature pork dumplings with a crispy outer layer and a variety of ramen bowls, including the spicy pork rib tonkotsu. The dish is made from broth marinated by pork bones and topped with a giant pork rib.

“We’re in Texas, everyone likes meat,” Mori said.

The soft-opening menu includes appetizers, such as spring rolls and French fries, as well as a collection of sake. After the grand opening, which will likely take place after Thanksgiving, the menu will expand, Mori said.

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Customers will be able to see their food cooking behind a long counter, similar to a sushi counter, that Mori had built during renovations of the Creek Cafe.

The space inside the restaurant is rustic, with wood panels lining the walls. Tree stumps, repurposed from the Creek Cafe, serve as chairs at two of the front tables.

“The menu is very normal in Japan, and I want the neighborhood to enjoy our food,” Mori said.

Waya is open from 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 4-8 p.m. Sunday.

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