Second Helpings: Sushi - Part One
Wes Marshall surveys some of Austin's sushi restaurants in this week's "Second Helpings."
Korea House & Sushi Bar2700 W. Anderson, #501 (Village Shopping Center), 458-2477
Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday, 11am-11pm;
Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, noon-10pm
The Kim family of Korea House has steadily built a loyal clientele for their small family restaurant overlooking a quiet, beautifully landscaped pond. Once people make the first trip to this almost hidden location, they seem destined to return. The selection of sushi is small and priced very fairly. They always seem to have the freshest and sweetest yellowtail available. The service is attentive, quick, and friendly. It's also worth giving the marvelous Korean food a try, especially the Bul Go Ki that you cook for yourself.
Musashino347 Greystone, 795-8593
Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 5-10:30pm
A first-rate sushi bar. Located in the same building as Chinatown, on the southbound frontage road of MoPac just north of Far West Boulevard, is the chic but almost hidden Musashino. Serving a whopping variety of sushi and a small selection of Japanese appetizers, the under-advertised restaurant features fine fish and friendly service. The regular sushi dinner goes for $12 and includes miso soup, salad, three pieces of a roll, and seven different pieces of sushi (chef's choice, so it changes daily) that melt in your mouth. Though expensive, it is certainly one of the best in Austin.
Kyoto I315 Congress, 482-9010
Monday-Thursday, 6-10:30pm; Friday-Saturday, 6-11pm
The original location is above the Elephant Room on Congress Avenue. The new one is north of the Arboretum, across from the Brick Oven. This Austin eatery provides a nice mix of austerity and comfort. The yellowtail (hamachi) sushi has a subtle, nutty flavor; each bite of the fatty tuna (toro) practically dissolves in your mouth. Service is attentive, and the sushi chefs are quite knowledgeable. While the sushi is outstanding, some of the Japanese dishes sometimes sacrifice innovation for consistency.
Seoul Restaurant6400-C S. First, 326-5807
Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-9:30pm; Friday, 11:30am-10pm; Saturday, 4:30-10pm
Sushi master D.K. Lee furnishes beautifully presented, moderately priced sushi crafted from the freshest cuts of fish in spare, clean, appealing environs. The creamy, butter-soft yellowtail deserved the most attention. The spider roll was wonderful, a deep-fried soft-shell crab, sprinkled with flying fish roe and paired with cucumber strips before being rolled tight in seaweed, then pressed in vinegared rice and black sesame seeds and sliced on the diagonal. The result had a rich flavor, a delicious departure from the typical healthy-fresh sushi roll.
Koreana Korean Grill and Sushi Bar12196 N. MoPac, 835-8888
Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm, 5-10pm; Saturday, 5-10pm; Sunday, 5pm-9pm
Very reasonable lunch specials highlight this pretty restaurant. The Grand Sushi lunch ($15.95) includes four pieces of sushi, a California roll, inari sushi (fried tofu stuffed with tuna, corn, carrots, and beef), tammago temaki (hand roll with sweet egg, apple, asparagus, and cucumber) and unagi maki (eel roll with a delicate sweet sauce). By the piece, the sushi is fairly expensive, but on Mondays, all sushi is 20% off. They also have one of the largest assortments of maki (rolled sushi) in town.
Korea Garden Restaurant and Sushi Bar6519 N. Lamar, 302-3149
Monday-Friday, 11am-2:30pm, 5-10pm; Sunday, noon-9pm; Sunday-Thursday, 11:10:30; Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm
Korea Garden runs a daily sushi combination special with six pieces of sushi and one roll for $12.95. Service was reasonably quick, and the presentation was an explosion of color, with the individual pieces artfully prepared. The yellowtail (hamachi) was silken and buttery and unfailingly fresh. The tuna (maguro) was prime, soft, deep red, and rich. But a surprising standout was the Spicy Tuna Handroll, which was like a spicy tuna tartare rolled in nori and flavored with chile, sesame oil, and cucumber -- absolutely incredible.
Shogun1807 Slaughter Lane, #225, 292-1580
Lunch, Monday-Friday, 11:30am-2pm; Dinner, Monday-Saturday, 5:30-10pm
The Korean-owned Shogun serves a solid selection of reasonably priced sushi and Japanese cuisine, as well as stir fries and a few other generic Asian dishes. Specialties of the house include sukiyaki, tempura, teriyaki, teppanyaki, udon, and soba. The menu also features some interesting salads. The maki and hand roll sections include such items as the Spider Roll, Hawaiian Roll, and Rock'n Roll.