And Flights of Rum Sing Thee to Tiki Tatsu-ya

Austin’s tikiculture treasure reveals the ’cane in all its craft

Reckon nobody has to tell you about Tiki Tatsu-ya, that apotheosis of tiki culture first visited upon our busy city in 2021 by the irrepressible Tatsu Aikawa and his talented crew, right?

Buzz Moran, partaking of (and explicating) two Tiki Tatsu-ya's new rum flights

Or, rather, we already told you mucho, back when the years-in-the-making, myth-borne islander paradise and culinary hotspot opened.

(Yeah, you remember what Blue Genie’s Kevin Collins had to say about the place, don’t you?)

Well, now we’re sounding a new clarion call of indulgence, trumpeting it loud with conch and cowrie – because Tiki Tatsu-ya has launched a program of rum flights wherein citizens can sample curated trios from among the joint’s finest holdings of sugarcane-based libations. Rums from Jamaica. Rums from Haiti. Rums from Martinique. Rums from – yes – Venezuela. Rums aged and unaged. Rums agricole and rums from molasses. Rums that you may have heard about, sure, but have never had sluicing down your own personal palate.

Just last week, your current reporter returned to Tiki Tatsu-ya to partake of two of the three available flights – the Economy and the Business Class trios – and brought along his favorite rum-soaked amateur expert, the estimable Buzz Moran, to better understand the value of this new program.

Oh, it’s got some value, alright.

Even without considering the Tourist Flight ($17), there are many air-miles of flavor and nuance covered in the journeys available via the Aikawa Travel Agency’s rummy initiative. The Economy Flight ($26) takes wing with Habitation Velier Hampden LROK White, San Zanj, and Rhum J.M. Blanc; the Business Class ($50) soars with Appleton Estate 15-Year Black River Casks, Neisson Reserve Speciale, and Diplomatico Ambassador.

And the differences among these drams of samples range from “Hmmm, okay, this one’s a sort of lighter version of that one” to “Wow, where the fuck did this dark brilliance come from again?” And yet all of these rums are more than worthy of quaffing, and – well, here’s the thing: You’ll be at Tiki Tatsu-ya.

Sitting there with my well-informed comrade, listening to the man explicate and rhapsodize each potent offering and the food we’d procured to accompany our flights (all of it, liquid and solid, already ably introduced by our team of servers), I paused to make note of Buzz’s comment on our past Tiki Tatsu-ya experience in comparison with this current one. Made note because, though it was only my third time enjoying the place’s thematic wares, Buzz had returned several times, dragging other friends along, since our initial foray.

I made literal note, in fact, transcribing his words onto a napkin that was only partly stained by contact with the magnificent Jackfruit Kushikatsu we were happily nomming.

“A lot of places would let things slide,” said Buzz, nodding appreciatively at the delivery of a multi-person Stranded On Saturn cocktail to a table across the way, the boozy behemoth’s accompanying soundtrack and lightshow briefly transforming the entire room. “But this place has kept going at their opening level, and they keep adding more. I mean, sure, nobody else is working this hard – but it just seems like everything they’re doing is perfect.”

I grinned at Buzz as our Butterfish Luau order arrived, the fish resplendent among braised greens and bits of smoked bacon, soaking lavishly in a turmeric coconut curry with a scattering of puffed rice. “Everything they’re doing is perfect,” I repeated. “Yeah, I’m not gonna argue with that. And it’s not just the rum talking, brother – I think you’re right.”

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