Second Helpings: Japanese, Part II
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse13492 Hwy. 183 N. #380, 288-7333 Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm; Monday-Thursday, 5-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 5-11pm
Sneaking in quietly among the construction of Highway 183, Kobe has built a steady following from Northern-dwelling Austinites. Busy weekend nights prove that the thrill of watching someone toss your meat in the air and then catch it with a spatula behind their back never gets old. Steak, seafood, and chicken come in a variety of freshly prepared grilling combinations with generous servings of appetizers and soup. The sushi menu is pretty substantial for not being their specific specialty and always fresh. Plan ahead of time if you want true Kobe beef imported from Japan -- that requires advance ordering.
Sushi Sake9503 Research #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 and tobiko. Unlike most other sushi bars, they sell one piece at a time instead of two.
Tanoshii661 Louis Henna Blvd. #300 (Greenlawn Shopping Center), Round Rock, 512/341-7874 Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday, 11am-10:30pm; Saturday, noon-10:30pm; Sunday, noon-10pm
The flurry of new Japanese restaurants and sushi bars is creeping beyond Austin city limits. Tanoshii has been pleasing diners since it opened in Round Rock during May of 2003. With its charming decor and impressively elegant presentation, the reasonable prices may come as a surprise, but it's certainly not for lack of quality. Generous portions of fresh ingredients fill the variety of sushi rolls, from classics -- cucumber, spider, and california -- to specialties like the Hot Christmas Roll (snow crab, avocado with red tobiko, crunchy flakes, and hot sauce) and the Tanoshii Roll (spicy salmon, avocado, and eel). Select from nearly 40 appetizers, soups, and salads to start and continue with a main course of Angus beef or salmon teriyaki, seafood and vegetable tempura, broiled eel, or one of several udon dishes. Tanoshii's excellent lunch specials offer smaller-sized portions of these teriyaki and tempura entrées weekdays from 11am to 2pm for $5.95-8.95. Or combine your choice of sashami or nigiri sushi with half a california roll, a tuna roll, and miso soup for a filling midday meal under $10. Finish things up with a Japanese take on cheesecake, battered in tempura and deep-fried.
Tokyo Teppan7010 W. Hwy. 71 #200, 288-3788 Monday-Thursday, 11am-2:30pm, 5:30-9pm; Friday, 11am-2:30pm, 5:30-10pm; Saturday, 5:30-10pm; Sunday, 5:30-9pm
The ever-growing community of sushi bars in town has another recent addition for far-south residents to enjoy. Located near the "Y" in Oak Hill and open just earlier this year, Tokyo Teppan is fairing well with sushi lovers with both its taste and prices. The chefs' performances are also a hit. Individual pieces range from $2 to $3 and rolls from $4 to $6. And for those who don't favor rolls, raw or cooked, the menu offers several steak cuts and grilled seafood entrées.
Uchi801 S. Lamar, 916-4808 Monday-Thursday, 5-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 5-11pm
Fans of Austin sushi veteran Tyson Cole were delighted to hear he'd be co-owner and head sushi chef of the new upscale Japanese restaurant Uchi. Cole and his partners took up residence in the little house (uchi means house in Japanese) that formerly held Si Bon, completely redesigning the interior for the May 2003 opening. Teamed with the talents of former DemiEpicurious sous chef Justin Sells and a team of talented staff from here and abroad, Cole draws from his traditional training as well as his experience at Mushashino, to offer a creative yet classic menu of high quality. The sushi ranges from fresh scallops, tuna, and seafood to negitoro rolls, seaweed, and chicken salad and is highly rated. The wide selection of yakitori and tempura dishes can be excellent but not consistently -- a common hazard of new restaurants. However, with a waitstaff complimented again and again for their fine service and thorough knowledge of the menu, you are ensured a positive dining experience.