Second Helpings: Japanese

Kyoto
Kyoto (Photo By John Anderson)

Tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were compiled by Chronicle food writer Mick Vann. When you need quick, reliable information about Austin eateries, check here.

Shogun

1807 Slaughter Ln., Ste. 225, 292-1580

Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm; Mon-Sat, 5:30-10pm

Shogun is the far-South option for lovers of Japanese cuisine, with 24 different lunch specials offered between $5.25 and 6.95. A full menu of fresh and firm sushi selections are also available. Shogun has a great assortment of appetizers, from which diners can make their own kaiseki dinner, or go with the specials menu, the large selection of noodle dishes, or any of the standards. Be sure to try the Sunomono salad of crab, cucumber, and seaweed.

Banzai

2120 Guadalupe, 320-0657

Sun-Fri, 10:30am-3:30pm, 4:30-9pm; Sat, 11am-9pm

Banzai offers the UT Japanese junkies their fix, right next to the old Quack's. Very reasonable prices for a somewhat limited menu, but all the bases are covered, including sushi. Lunch specials include sushi and main dish items for around five bucks, or the Bento Box combos for $7. All the noodles are represented, along with katsus, tempuras, and teriyakis. Be sure to try the unagi (sweet glazed eel) in sushi form, or over rice ($4.99) -- it's a delight. Nice vegan selections.

Zen

2900 W. Anderson, Ste. 250, 451-4811

Mon-Sat, 10:30am-9pm; Sun, 11am-8:30pm

Zen offers quick Japanese fast food at really great prices for the diner on the go. How great are the prices? Try four pieces of Spicy Tuna Roll for $2.09 or a side bowl of Udon Noodles for a buck! The menu is somewhat limited, but most categories are covered, from sushi to salads, teriyaki to rice bowls with toppings. It's easy for a diner to customize the meal, getting as much or as little as desired. Zen is perfect for that healthy Japanese food fix when you're in a rush.

Kyoto

4815 W. Braker Ln., Ste. 580, 346-5800

Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm; Sun-Thu, 5:30-10pm; Fri-Sat, 5:30-11pm

315 Congress, Ste. 200, 482-9010

Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm; Mon-Thu, 6-10:30pm; Fri-Sat, 6-11pm

Sushi's the thing at both locations, and fine sushi it is. But there are other options to choose from, such as kushi teri (skewers of chicken, beef or veggies), katsu, teriyaki, tepanyaki, sukiyaki, tempura, and yakisoba. The most expensive menu item is also the most economical: Combo B, which is shrimp and veggie tempura, grilled salmon, seafood kushi, and sushi, with all the trimmings for $19.95. One of Austin's Japanese mainstays.

Ichiban

7310 Burnet, 452-2883

Mon-Fri, 11am-11:30pm; Sat, noon-11:30pm; Sun, 3-11pm

Ichiban is one of the favorites of the native Japanese in Austin, considered a good sign by non-native diners. They offer some Korean fare as well as all of the traditional Japanese items, and of course, sushi (considered by many to be in the top three of Austin's sushi restaurants). A major plus at Ichiban is large entrée portioning and a focus on taste as well as artistry of presentation. You'll find efficient service in the Japanese tradition. Love those late hours!

Benihana

9070 Research, 451-7505

Sun-Thu, 5-10:30pm; Fri, 5pm-1am; Sat, 5pm-midnight

At Benihana, the show's the thing, with chefs cooking at your table hibachi with a flurry of flashing steel and leaping flames. But the food is surprisingly good as well. The prices might seem a little on the high side, but you get a lot of chow for the price, not to mention the entertainment value. Interesting sides and a full sushi menu are also available, and your kids will go nuts over the dazzling cooking activities.

Osaka

13492 N. Hwy. 183, 918-8012

Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Sat, 5:30-10pm; Sun, 5-10pm

Osaka is the fave of the far-flung Northwest Austin and has a solid reputation for its outstanding sushi presentations. The atmosphere is serene, sedate, and cozy -- perfect for family dining or that maybe-baby date. Aside from the sushi bar, Osaka has a fairly complete selection of traditional Japanese fare, all prepared with care and concern. If you find yourself jonesing for a Japanese fix in the upper left-hand corner of town, Osaka is hard to beat.

Azuma Express

2501 W. Parmer Ln., Ste. 500, 834-9304

Mon-Fri, noon-2pm, 5-9pm; Sat, noon-9pm

Azuma is the North Austin spot for futuristic fast food in the Nipponese style. Service in this hip, happening hangout is rocket-fast, and many diners get it to go, though the red booths beckon (if one is available). The menu offers a multitude of choices, with many sides available for a buck or so. Sushi, noodles, soups, tempuras, teriyaki, and more can be had for a song. Azuma is the slick spot for people-watching while lingering over Green Tea Ice Cream.

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