Austin Sushi News, November 28th, 2000
Question: What do they call sushi in Texas?
....except in Austin where upscale sushi bars are popping up
like mushrooms in a cow pasture. Big chunks of friendly fishy raw
pieces are everywhere these days, fueled by filthy new computer
dough and the latest healthy food fads. This issue of Austin Sushi News
two new sushi bars we've mentioned in previous issues plus talks about
four other places to get your ya-ya's satisfied. When will the
madness end? Hopefully, never!
YET ANOTHER NEW SUSHI BAR??!!
Yes! Yoshi's Sushi Bar, co-located with Peony Restaurant, at
5308 Balcones Drive (phone: 459-3341) is now open. I ducked
inside one night and liked what I saw, but didn't have time to
sample the wares. Welcome this new addition to the Austin
sushi scene. (Thanks to Tim for the tip).
SKETCHES OF KENICHI
www.designaustin.com will soon host some design sketches of the forthcoming
Kenichi sushi bar. The current designaustin.com home page has a tiny blurb
"COMING SOON: a new restaurant by DICK CLARK ARCHITECTURE".
Stay tuned to that web page for a link -- probably on December 4th.
For those just tuning in to Austin Sushi News, Kenichi is a new sushi bar
that is expected to open in late February, 2001, at the southeast corner of
and W. 5th Streets. Dick Clark Architects are managing the new decor.
Check out www.kenichi.com, the web site for their current Aspen, Colorado,
MUSASHINO: STILL NUMBER ONE
Musashino is still our number one choice for the best sushi
in Austin, despite two strong contenders
opening in the past several months (see reviews below).
A dethroning is possible, though, as both of these sushi
bars are starting to ramp up their operations.
By the way, if you're at Musashino, definitely check out the
new upstairs sushi bar/waiting area adjacent to Chinatown. It features
comfy chairs, a full bar, and a Musashino-trained sushi chef. Now, if
only Musashino would get a clue and redecorate their main dining
area like that....
REVIEW OF UMI
After several misstarts, Umi Sushi Bar and Grill finally opened late on
Monday, November 6th. It's fancy decor beats out
Sushi Sake as the swankest of any sushi bar in Austin.
Umi's luxurious, twisting 16 seat sushi bar, interesting ambient lighting,
motorized fans, exotic aquariums, and full bar should make it a prime
destination for before and after shows, especially if they decide to
keep late hours. They also have a private banquet room (not a
tatami room) that can be reserved. On our last visit, the sushi
was quite excellent -- nearly on par with Musashino.
Our one beef: the service really sucked. Most Austin sushi
bars seem to have trouble finding good wait staff, but this was the
worst we've experienced. We hope they improve
this aspect of the business. They also haven't had any of the higher
quality sashimi on any of our visits. On the plus side,
I thought their tempura udon was the best I've had in Austin, and
I've been impressed by other hot dishes I've seen come out
of their kitchen.
Umi is located at 5510 South I-35, #400 at
Stassney Lane on the southbound frontage road of I-35.
REVIEW OF SUSHI SAKE
Sushi Sake opened on October 6th with little
fanfare other than the requisite ad in the Austin
Chronicle. Our visits have been uneven. Sometimes
the sushi and service are good, other times we wondered
why we bothered. The decor is pleasantly upscale compared to most of the
sushi venues in Austin. One member of our party remarked
that the way the staff treated us reminded him of better sushi bars
in San Francisco. The sushi was good though
they were out of some basic items on our first visit. The
presentation and quality was above average but still
not as good as Musashino. With the amount of money
they've invested, we expect the quality to improve.
Sushi Sake has a cavernous and interesting tatami room
with only two tables that each seat ten people.
Sushi Sake is located in the Gateway shopping
center near the CompUSA store on Research Boulevard.
It's right in front of CompUSA in that little block
of stores in the parking lot.
9503 Research Blvd, #500.
GLOBAL SUSHI POLICY
Still think that sushi is just a bunch of raw fish?
Check out this fascinating article, by Theodore Bestor, on the global
of sushi from Foreign Policy Magazine.
Excerpt: "Yet Japanese cultural motifs and material-from Kurosawa's
'The Seven Samurai' to Yoda's Zen and Darth Vader's armor, from Issey
Miyake's fashions to Nintendo, PlayStation, and Pokemon-have increasingly
saturated North American, and, indeed, the entire world's consumption and
popular culture. Against all odds, so too has sushi. "
YET MORE NEW SUSHI SOURCES
In an agonistic effort to report on every sushi source in Austin,
here are several new, and not so new, sushi sources in Austin:
1. Emperor Garden -- A Korean and Chinese restaurant.
It has a small six seat sushi bar at the entrance.
9515 N. Lamar
2. Jade -- a Chinese restaurant.
3704 N. I-35
It might have a sushi bar,
but we haven't checked. Ok, we think this is a crack house that
sells food up front. Really, does anyone eat there?
3. Lemon Grass Asian Grill -- A new upscale Asian restaurant.
Lakeway Plaza, near Highway 71 and RR 620
They have sushi on the menu every other Saturday.
CELL PHONE ACCESS TO THE LATEST SUSHI RATINGS
As always, if you've got a compatible cell phone (Spring PCS'
Wireless Web, AT&T's PocketNet, or Verizon's Mobile Web),
point it at our list of Austin sushi bars (www.marystreet.com/s.wml).
Push a button to automatically call your favorite sushi bar. Handy!