WINNER: Tsunami, New Orleans

This renovation turned a heavily draped sushi restaurant into a modern space filled with natural light. The project team accomplished this by creating zones using lighting, textures and subtle transitions between bar, group dining and banquette seating. Japanese Wagara patterns inspired the creation of screens and texture surfaces that create privacy but don’t truly close off any one area of the restaurant from another. The judges felt “the design is fluid, consistent” and maximized seating without feeling “clustered.” One judge said, “This was a renovation that doesn’t feel like a renovation; it feels like a brand-new space.”

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Image courtesy of Sara Essex Bradley

WINNER: Ja Jiaozi Authentic, Irvine, Calif.

A Chinese import that hopes to share the love of “jiaozi” — dumplings — with American diners, this restaurant provides a front-row seat to experience the theater of the kitchen at its dumpling bar. On a key feature wall, ceramic dumplings accent large ribbons of painted metal. The judges liked that the project subverted expectations and didn’t look like a “traditional dim-sum” restaurant. “From the standpoint of delight, this is a phenomenal space,” said one judge. “I would love to sit there and eat dumplings.” The judges also enjoyed the “incredibly simple use of materials” to strong effect.

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Images courtesy of © 2018 Lawrence Anderson Photography, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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