Sushi News

Corporate Sushi at the Kona Grill

Sushi News: 

Kona Grill is perhaps the largest sushi bar chain in the United States today. They're a public company listed on NASDAQ (KONA) and have 18 locations nationwide, from Nevada to Florida to Conneticut. Their Austin location is at The Domain, a somewhat strange manufactured retail/dining experience hewn out of the barren corporate landscape next to IBM in far North Austin (it's like an outdoor version of Barton Creek Mall). In the synthetic landscape of The Domain, Kona fits perfectly, offering cheeseburgers and turkey wraps alongside a full-service sushi bar that has a very expensive salt water aquarium behind it. We recently sampled their corporate sushi with, admittedly, some trepidation. The sushi was actually ok. The green tea teabags and cups of "soybeans" (edamame) made it feel more like a diner, though.

Got Sake?

Sushi News: 

joyofsake If you dig sake, and your're not planning on attending "the largest sake tasting event outside of Japan," then have a sake event in Austin, k? Otherwise, you can go to Honolulu (August), New York (September), or San Francisco (October), and experience "300 sakes in peak condition and a splendid array of appetizers." Check out the web site for details.

If you happen to be in New York City, check out their first sake store, Sakaya, in the East Village. If you're in San Francisco, you'll want to visit True Sake in the Hayes Valley neighborhood.

But if you're like me, and your idea of a good time is double-fisting cans of Funaguchi Kikusui while cruising over the 290/I-35 North ramp at 95mph while singing along to "Kiseki", then you're probably living in the wrong city (except for the I-35 ramp part). If you're lucky, though, you can find the booze, er, sake, down at that wacky liquor superstore, Specs, which now has three Austin locations.

Tyson Cole And Secrets Of Iron Chef America

Sushi News: 

The packed audience at the Slammo (South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse) was delighted to witness Uchi's Tyson Cole take on Chef Masaharu Morimoto on Episode 7, Season 6 of Iron Chef America last month. Though Cole lost, 49 to 42, it really wasn't about the winning. These were two culinary masters in their element (the secret ingredient was ginger) and the results were spectacular.

In true Alamo style, the broadcast of the episode was interspersed with revealing locally-taped segments where Tyson talked about his experiences on the show. A few things Tyson pointed out:

  • The Iron Chef America announcer indicates that Tyson has "picked Matsomoro as his challenger," Tyson says that the show's producers make that decision, not him. In other words, it's a small lie.
  • Despite appearing otherwise, the food Tyson and Matsomoro prepare in front of the cameras is not the food served to the judges at the end of the episode. The actual food served to the judges is prepared later (off-camera) by Tyson and Matsomoro.
  • Contestants are given a list of three ingredients weeks before they show up to compete, but only one of those ingredients will be the secret ingredient. So, Tyson had to practice three different food preparations, one featuring each ingredient. Tyson thinks that the Iron Chef (in this case, Matsomoro), gets to know what the secret ingredient is beforehand (a significant advantage).
  • Tyson wished that Ted Allen (food critic on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) had been one of the judges on this episode because, Tyson noted, "for some reason, gay men love my food."

Sure, Tyson lost on Iron Chef, but with Uchi grossing upwards of $100,000 per week, we think he'll be ok.

Sushi Pimp Turns Sushi Tricks

Sushi News: 

DK Our favorite neighborhood procurer, panderer, knave, and scoundrell, the Notorious DK (only on Monday night folks, the rest of the time, he's cool), owner of Seoul Sushi Bar, has purchased the Asian market at 5610b North Lamar Blvd and is turning it into a "one stop sushi shop" featuring a sushi teaching kitchen and plenty of Asian groceries. Bookmark this page to find out when the fun begins.

Speaking of sushi pedagogy, if you haven't ventured down to the Sunset Valley Famer's Market yet, you might want to check out the delightful bento boxes made by the husband and wife team behind They also offer sushi-making lessons in your home and will teach your kids too! Read the review on Austin Tidbits

Newer Sushi Bars In The Far North

Sushi News: 

We confess that we haven't done justice to the growing number of sushi bars that are spreading northward towards Waco and beyond. Those sushi bars would include Sushi Caliente in Cedar Park, Tomo on Parmer Lane, Hayashi in Georgetown, Hakata in Pflugerville, Origami in Round Rock, Kaprow Leaf on Howard Lane, and Chon Som on Wells Branch Parkway (have I missed any? Probably...). And while we're at it, Origami Express near Anderson Lane and Burnet Road has changed owners and will soon be opening as Sushi Kyu, pronounced 'Q' (their web site does not appear to be up yet).

Have You Been To Kenobi?

Sushi News: 

A recent visit to the new Kenobi Restaurant and Sushi Bar confirmed that it is, indeed, the nicest sushi bar we've seen in Austin since Uchi and Maiko opened. The innovative wall textures, towering ceilings, and challenging bathroom sinks made up for the less-than-stellar sushi we feasted upon. But, like any new sushi bar, getting the culinary machine ramped up can take some time and we fully expect Kenobi to kick some sushi arse in 2008. Check them out and report about it in our forums. Check out the Kenobi website, for more details.

Non-Essential Sushi Reading

Sushi News: 

A sure sign that sushi-mania has gotten its cultural second wind is when books arrive to give us the historical and sociological background that we so desperately don't need. Still, if you've always wanted to know the history of sushi, as well as details about the infrastructure that delivers it to your local sushi bar, these books are pretty interesting. To find out what books I'm talking about, check out the book review in the New York Times by novelist Jay McInerny -- it's a good read. You may need to login to read it (go to to get credentials).

Sushi and Sake in the Zone

Sushi News: 

We've reported on Nyotaimori (body sushi - eating sushi off a woman's body) in past issues of Austin Sushi News, but we hadn't talked about a related endeavor which is Wakamezake (also called wakame sake and seaweed sake), a somewhat sexy-time act involving drinking alcohol from a woman's body. According to Wikipedia, the woman closes her legs tight enough that the triangle between the thighs and mons pubis form a cup, and then pours sake down her chest into this triangle. Her partner then drinks the sake from there. The name comes from the idea that the woman's pubic hair in the sake resembles soft seaweed floating in the sea. This one may even be too wild for DK's pimpalicious karaoke sushi nights (after 7pm Monday nights at Seoul Sushi Bar). Is that a challenge? Yes!


Here goes...this is just an attempt to really try a variety of different sushi.. But I have my favs and just want to challenge everyone to try my favs and I'll try their favs, and I'll be honest about what I think...I just want to try different sushi places, and I want other people to try what I think is amazing sushi...
So who's up for it...?

New Sushi Restaurant in Georgetown!

I met some friends at the Vino100 at the Wolf Ranch Town Center in Georgetown for a wine tasting and were turned on to a new sushi restaurant next door called Hayashi. The place is beautiful, the lounge music is awesome, the staff were very attentive, and the FOOD was unbelievable! For those sushi lovers like myself, you really need to check this new venue out!! I have several favorite restaurants but this was wonderful.