The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/food/2004-01-16/193319/

Saké on Sixth

By Claudia Alarcón, January 16, 2004, Food

Saké on Sixth

621-A E. Sixth, 478-8788

Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30-11pm; Friday-Saturday, 5:30pm-1am

On their Web site, Saké on Sixth was presented as a sleek, contemporary place with an innovative approach to the regular sushi bar, offering sushi, sake, and music. It seemed interesting and a good place to meet friends for an early evening of sushi and cocktails. Upon further inspection, unfortunately, things were not quite what I had hoped or expected.

Arriving early, I sat at the bar to wait for friends. The place is nice and modern, with interesting lighting and quirky art on the walls. The atmosphere is what would be expected from a Sixth Street nightclub, catering to young clubgoers and featuring a different DJ in charge of the music every night. The concept is interesting; however, I couldn't avoid feeling that the place had been somewhat abandoned and that no one was really paying attention to its operation.

I am usually suspicious when I see no prices on the drinks menu, but I figured I'd give it the benefit of the doubt. I ordered a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc from the very limited wine and sake list. The young bartender seemed perplexed and asked me what "brand" it was. Uh-oh. After a few minutes of looking in the cooler, it was apparent that there was none, so I ordered a glass of an Australian Shiraz that can be found at HEB for about $7 a bottle. It turned out to be $7 a glass here. After the first taste I knew that the wine had turned. I asked for a fresh bottle to be opened. At that point I started getting scared.

When friends arrived we moved to a booth. The menu has lots of interesting-sounding items, and we were excited to try them. The Sake Mussel Soup ($7) sounded promising, announcing mussels in a spicy broth with basil, tomatoes, and jalapeños. However, when it arrived at the table, there were no tomatoes or jalapeños, and the broth, although tasty, was not spicy in the least. When we mentioned it to the waiter, he shrugged and said the cook must have forgotten.

Within a few minutes he returned to offer us a "sake bomb" on the house. In the name of science we agreed. A sake bomb is a tiny cup of warm sake dropped into a small glass of hard apple cider, to be tossed back as a shot. Very Sixth Street. Surprisingly, it was good, and it proved to be a pleasant palate cleanser, although I wouldn't have more than just one.

We moved on to sushi rolls, finding many intriguing new combinations. The Green Dragon Roll ($10) was a winner, filled with tender eel and crisp cucumber, and covered with avocado on the outside. We also ordered the Volcano Roll (tuna, red snapper, salmon, yellowtail, and spicy sauce, $10),

the P

ecan Street Roll (avocado, cucumber, jalapeño, tempura shrimp with spicy sauce, $10) and the

Capital Roll (spicy hamachi, cucumber, and spicy sauce wrapped with tempura "crunch," $11). They were all good, except for the fact that there were no jalapeños or spicy sauce in any of them. We all got the feeling that perhaps the regular clientele does not appreciate spicy things and that they have "sanitized" the food without changing the menu. Or maybe the cook forgot again.

Dessert choices are limited to fried ice cream, fried banana, and fried cheesecake. The Flaming Fried Ice Cream ($5) was plain vanilla wrapped in pound cake and fried, then doused with booze and "flamed." There was no sauce or contrasting flavor to make it interesting.

Overall, my feeling about Saké on Sixth is that someone abandoned a good idea halfway through. What could be an innovative and fun experience fizzles out due to an inexperienced -- although enthusiastic and polite -- staff and disappointing inconsistencies between the descriptions on the menu and the food presented. It could become a unique and exciting establishment if and when it receives the attention it deserves.

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