EAST Eats: Sa-Tén

Coffee done artfully

Photo by John Anderson

Sa-Tén can be a little difficult to find. We passed it twice before we noticed a small, collapsible sign. Finding the cafe tucked into a corner of the Canopy's gallery space was like being let in on a secret. With the East Austin Studio Tour heading into the second weekend, it's one we expect won't be kept long.

Owned by the folks behind Komé and Daruma Ramen, Sa-Tén nabs design ideas from both. Komé's horizontal wood and Zen textures feature prominently, as does Daruma's pop sensibility (their poppy wallpaper replaced here by playful squirrels). There are plenty of ideas to steal – color-blocked tabletops, a TV set converted to fish tank, and yellow lamp guards used with filament bulbs to create instant pendants. The industrial touches fit in well in the warehouse space; the light-filled environment is no-doubt a draw to the cafe's esthetically-inclined neighbors.

The menu – a step above the typical coffee shop's quick breads and pastries – likewise fits in well with an artsy crowd. Creativity is fueled by serious coffee, including a robust 16-hour cold brew. It's perfect for pairing with their selection of Red Rabbit Bakery's superlative vegan donuts.

Japanese-style toast anchors most of the food offerings, whether as the main event or a side. Thick and buttery, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, the toast stages forms the foundation to everything from grilled vegetables (yasai) to egg spread (nori tama). Many of the dishes in the category play with fusion. The rich sriracha mayo smoked salmon is something akin to japanese bagels and lox. The Me So Honey uses a miso butter.

Photo by John Anderson

Those with larger appetites can choose from a small selection of well-developed plates (available 11am-4pm only). The chicken katsu with curry is the most ambitious, with a combo of pickled vegetables, tar tar sauce, and Worcestershire. The same curry is featured with grilled asparagus, broccoli, and okra. Less adventurous palates may gravitate towards the chicken teriyaki, served with a Asian twist on picnic macaroni salad.

But part of the experience of Sa-Tén is adventure. You'll want to discover both new flavors and new art. The concept may be new to Austin, but travel broadens the mind – even if the trip is just a few miles East.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Sa-Tén
Dear Glutton: Where to Escape Christmas
Dear Glutton: Where to Escape Christmas
Hide out for the holidays

Emily Beyda, Dec. 16, 2016

More by Andrew Thomas
First Look: Royal Jelly
First Look: Royal Jelly
Global meets glam

Oct. 16, 2015

First Look: Craftsman
First Look: Craftsman
Vintage charm and craft cocktails

May 20, 2015


Sa-Tén, Daruma Ramen, Komé, East Austin Studio Tour

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle