Dallas Sushi Chef Learns To Sign Menu For Deaf Couple

“It blew her away and nearly brought me to tears.”

Tatsu Dallas Chef

Nataly Keomoungkhoun 

An exclusive Dallas restaurant known for its tasting menu is making headlines not for its food, but for going above and beyond to make a memorable dining experience for a Deaf couple.

In a now-viral Twitter thread, D Magazine's online dining editor Nataly Keomoungkhoun shared a story about the service her sister, Melissa Keomoungkhoun, and her husband, Victor Montiel, received at Tatsu Dallas that nearly brought her to tears. 

“I visited Tatsu Dallas for the first time in August,” Nataly wrote. “Loved it and told my friends and family. My sister, a big foodie, was able to score a reservation earlier this month and had an experience that she’ll remember for the rest of her life.”

“My husband and I are Deaf,” Melissa told Today via email. “When going out to restaurants, we are usually prepared to accommodate the communication with the staff such as using our voices with American Sign Language (ASL), we would use our voices while showing texts on our phones of what we need or want to order or we would ask for pen and paper if communication gets too difficult.”

Tatsu Dallas is an omakase establishment, which means diners are served dishes selected specifically by the chef. Concerned that communication with staff might be difficult, Melissa emailed the restaurant ahead of time to inform the staff and find out how dinner would work without them being able to hear the chef explain each dish. 

The restaurant responded by sharing a tasting menu for them to study ahead of time along with a promise that they would provide a more-detailed menu prior to their reservation so they could read everything the chef wanted them to know.

But that wasn’t all Tatsu Dallas had planned. When Melissa and Victor finally arrived on the night of their reservation, staff greeted them in ASL. What’s more, chef Tatsuya Sekiguchi had learned how to sign the entire tasting menu just for them. 

“My sister said she saw a printout behind the bar of how to sign parts of the menu,” Nataly wrote alongside a video of Sekiguchi signing some menu items. “It blew her away and nearly brought me to tears.”

Speaking with Today, Sekiguchi stressed that he and his staff did not learn ASL for attention. Providing memorable dining experiences every single day is his passion.  

“I did not learn completely. I learned the phrases that I need to use during service,” he explained. “We hope they will return so until that day we will all continue to study and learn ASL."

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