Second Helpings: Sushi, Part 1

You say "sushi," I say "Second Helpings." "Sushi!" "Second Helpings!"

"Second Helpings" offers tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were updated by Erin Mosow. For quick, reliable information about Austin eateries, check here.

Kyoto I

315 Congress, 482-9010

Tuesday-Friday, 11:30am-2pm;

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.

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.

Kenichi

419 Colorado, 320-8883

Sunday-Wednesday, 5:30-10pm;

Thursday-Saturday, 5:30-11pm
We have to appreciate a sushi restaurant that offers freshly ground wasabi root, 22 different types of sake with more to come, 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 décor. Thankfully, their very professional waitstaff manages to make each customer feel like a celebrity.

Sushi Sake

9503 Research Blvd. #500, 527-0888

Monday (Mondays only, closed 2-5)-Thursday, 11:30am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, noon-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 and tobiko. Unlike most other sushi bars, they sell one piece at a time instead of two.

Origami

Round Rock, 110 N. I-35 Ste. 200-B, 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 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 created from tuna, salmon, avocado, shrimp, and crab.

Umi Sushi

5510 S. I-35, 383-8806

Sunday-Wednesday, 11:30am-10pm; Thursday-Saturday, 11:30am-11pm
Umi intends to become one of the top sushi restaurants in Austin. They opened last October with an aggressive menu with a sizable 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 (yellowtail) 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.

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