Second Helpings: Sushi -- Part Two

Wes Marshall completes his survey of Austin's sushi restaurants.


"Second Helpings" is compiled from new and previous reviews and guides. This week's entries were updated by Wes Marshall. For quick, reliable info on Austin eateries, check here.

Kenichi

419 Colorado, 320-8883

Sunday-Tuesday, 5:30-10pm; Wednesday-Saturday, 5:30-11pm

We have to appreciate a sushi restaurant that offers freshly ground wasabi root, 10 different types of sake, and Kobe beef carpaccio. We were delightfully impressed by a cuisine that was not only beautifully packaged, but thoughtfully conceived and well-prepared, if expensive. All the fish dishes are fresh and wonderful, but their five spiced Sika deer ($28) is one the best game dishes in Austin. Kenichi is a place of voyeuristic excitement, where the trendiness of its clientele is matched equally by its decor. Thankfully, their very professional waitstaff manages to make each customer feel like a celebrity.

Sushi Sake

9503 Research Blvd. #500, 527-0888

Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11:30am-10:30pm; Sunday, noon-10pm

From the moment you enter, you know this place is a little different. First, as befits the name, they take their sake seriously, serving premium brands cold (as their makers intended). Second, they have a long sushi bar with some of the most beautiful fish we've seen in Austin. Excellent selection, including terrific uni (sea urchin roe, $3.95) and tobiko (flying fish roe, $1.95). Unlike most other sushi bars, they sell one piece at a time instead of two.

Origami

Round Rock, 110 N. I-35, #200B, 238-6522

Lunch, Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm; Dinner, Monday-Saturday, 5:30-10pm

The land out north finally has its own sushi bar, and it's a good one. The orders come with two pieces and range from $3.50 to $4.95. Even better are the happy hours, when Nigiri orders drop to $2.95. For you roll lovers, Origami offers 25 different types, including the Origami roll ($10.95, $8.95 at happy hour) created from tuna, salmon, avocado, shrimp, and crab. The sushi bar only holds 10 people.

Umi Sushi

5510 S. I-35, 383-8806

Monday-Wednesday, 11:30am-10pm; Thursday-Saturday, 11:30am-11:00pm; Sunday 4-10pm

Umi intends to become one of the top sushi restaurants in Austin. They opened in October with an aggressive menu with a sizeable selection of Nigiri sushi. The bar has 18 seats, but the restaurant holds 200 people. Each order includes two pieces. Prices are about average for Austin. For example, hamachi (yellow tail) is $5.50, uni is $7.50. They are quite proud of their Boat for Two ($45.90) and Boat for Three ($54.90), both of which include generous portions of Nigiri sushi and sashimi.

Kyoto II

4815 W. Braker, #580, 346-5800

Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm; Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 5:30-11pm

Intimate, attractive restaurant with about 10 seats at the sushi bar. Faultlessly fresh fish, though not as wide a selection as some other sushi spots. Good food, comfortable surroundings, and talkative sushi chefs can add up to a long and leisurely meal. Luckily, the prices aren't too high. The original downtown location has provided dependably good sushi in Austin for so long, people sometimes take it for granted. This newer version is just as good.

Ichiban

7310 Burnet Rd., 452-2883

Monday-Friday, 11am-10:30pm; Saturday, noon-10:30pm; Sunday, 4-10:30pm

Ichiban is Japanese for best, first, tops, number one. A big claim, but we've heard some regular customers that will, hand over heart, claim it's true. The place is constantly crowded, which means the fish turns over fast, always the best benchmark of a sushi bar. If you get tired of sushi, they also have first-class Korean food.

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