Second Helpings: All Japanese
Austin is the new Japan! In this week's "Second Helpings."
Ichiban7310 Burnet Rd., 452-2883
Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday, 11am-10:30pm; Saturday, noon-10:30pm; Sunday, 4-10pm
Ichiban is a favorite of the native Japanese in Austin, considered a good sign by non-native diners like us. 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.
Kyoto4815 W. Braker #580, 346-5800
Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Saturday, 5:30-10pm
315 Congress #200, 482-9010
Tuesday-Friday, 11:30am-2pm; Monday-Saturday, 6-10:30pm
Sushi's the thing at both locations, 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.
Zen2900 W. Anderson #250, 451-4811
Monday-Saturday, 11am-9pm; Sunday, 11:30am-8pm
1305 S. Congress, 444-8081
Monday-Saturday, 11am-10pm; Sunday, 11:30am-10pm
Zen offers quick Japanese fast food at really great prices for the diner on the go and has a new location for Southsiders in a hurry. The menu is selective, but most categories are covered, from sushi to salads, rice bowls with toppings to teriyaki. It's easy for the diner to customize the meal, getting as much or as little as desired. Zen's perfect for that healthy Japanese food fix when you're in a rush.
Pango Tea Bar718 Congress, 478-8899
Monday-Tuesday, 11am-3pm, 5pm-midnight; Wednesday-Friday, 11am-3pm, 5pm-2am; Saturday, 6pm-2am
Pango covers several categories, including floral and specialty teas, syphone process and Dutch water drip-process coffees, pearl, milk, and jelly teas, and traditional Chinese cha (tea) ceremony presentations. They feature sushi, rice rolls, dumplings, spring rolls, and wraps until 1:45am Fridays and Saturdays, as well as live music Wednesdays and Thursdays. It's the perfect spot for that late-night pick me up.
Monday-Friday, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Saturday, 5-10pm; Sunday, 5-9pm
Osaka is the fave of the far-flung northwestern area of town and has a solid reputation for its outstanding sushi presentations. The atmosphere is serene, sedate, and cozy ... perfect for family dining or that special date. Aside from the sushi bar, Osaka has a fairly complete selection of traditional Japanese fare, all prepared with care and concern.
Benihana9070 Research, 451-7505
Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5-10pm; Friday, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5-11pm; Saturday, 11:30am-11pm; Sunday, 11:30am-10pm; Sushi bar opens at 11am
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.
Shogun1807 Slaughter #225, 292-1580
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 could make their own kaiseki dinner, or go with the specials menu, the large selection of noodle dishes, or any of the standards.
Mikado Ryotei9033 Research, 833-8188
Sunday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-10:30pm
Offering the newest trend to hit Austin recently, Mikado serves Japanese tapas, or robata, a mix of grilled seafood, meats, and vegetables. Owner Henry Wong wanted to expand beyond the sushi bar into other areas of Japanese cuisine. Beautiful décor and sharable portions make Mikado the perfect place to relax and try the many tastes of Japanese cuisine.