Second Helpings: Japanese, Part I

"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 info about Austin eateries, check here.

Benihana

9070 Research, 451-7505 Monday-Thursday, 5-10pm; Friday, 5-11pm;

Saturday, 11:30am-11pm; Sunday, 11:30am-10pm
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.

Ichiban
Ichiban (Photo By John Anderson)

Ichiban

7310 Burnet Rd., 452-2883 Daily, 11am-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 Austin sushi restaurants). A major plus at Ichiban is large entrée portioning and a focus on taste as well as artistry of presentation.

Kyoto Japanese Restaurant

4815 W. Braker #580, 346-5800 Monday-Friday, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Saturday, 5:30-10pm 315 Congress, 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 is shrimp and veggie tempura, grilled salmon, seafood kushi, and sushi, with all the trimmings, for $19.95. One of Austin's Japanese mainstays.

Mikado Ryotei

9033 Research, 833-8188 Sunday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-10:30pm
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 decor and sharable portions make Mikado the perfect place to relax and try the many tastes of Japanese cuisine.

Osaka

13492 Research #160, 918-8012 Monday-Friday, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Saturday, 5:30-10pm; Sunday, 5-10pm
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.

Pango Tea Bar

718 Congress, 478-8899 Daily, 11am-11:30pm
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, as well as live music. It's the perfect spot for that late-night pick-me-up.

Shogun

1807 Slaughter #225, 292-1580 Monday-Friday, 11:30am-2pm;

Monday-Saturday, 5:30-10pm
Shogun is the far-South option for lovers of Japanese cuisine, with 24 different lunch specials. 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.

Zen Japanese Food Fast

1303 S. Congress, 444-8081 Monday-Saturday, 10:30am-9pm;

Sunday, 11am-8:30pm 2900 W. Anderson, 451-4811

Monday-Saturday, 11am-10pm;

Sunday, 11:30am-8:30pm
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.

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