Sushi Innovations

New trends in local sushi keep Austinites fresh

D.K. Lee
D.K. Lee (Photo by John Anderson)

The sushi situation in Austin just keeps getter better, and some local restaurateurs are bringing new ideas and innovations to the table.

D.K. Lee, the chef and owner of DK Sushi on South First (, has opened a sushi market at 5610-B N. Lamar (302-1090). The timing is perfect, as more and more Austinites are learning to roll their own. Sushi nori, rice, sauces, ginger, wasabi, and sushi-grade frozen vacuum-packed fish, as well as other sushi ingredients (quail eggs, cucumber, avocado) are all assembled here for quick one-stop shopping. Lee is also showcasing his renowned "game-show-host personality" with sushi-making classes in the modern, hands-on cooking-class facility that dominates the northern side of the market. "I think I can teach better than anyone how to make perfect roll in fast time," boasts Lee with the exuberance that has made him a local celebrity. The classes are Thursdays, 6-8pm, and Saturdays, 1-3pm, and cost $65 for a two-hour class. The class fee includes ingredients, and since you make at least 65 dollars' worth of sushi, which you get to eat or take home, the class literally pays for itself. Lee is also on the premises making sushi to-go Wednesday through Sunday (except during class time). Though the store is small, the staff is superfriendly and fully able to answer all of your sushi-making questions.

Korea Garden (6519 N. Lamar, 302-3149) has upped its cachet by installing Austin's first sushi train. No, it's not a Lionel model train (as fun as that would be) but an elegant and swift conveyor belt that carries color-coded plates of sushi and other favorites around an expanded sushi bar that seats 48 people. It takes three chefs working constantly to keep the "train" loaded with plates on a busy night, and busy it has been! The experience is extremely festive, and the sushi is very good. Plates range in price from $1.50 to $4, making a fun sushi dinner a real bargain.

Sushi Kyu (2438 W. Anderson Ste. A-3, 452-7874), the cleverly named new sushi restaurant opened by Paul Lee, showcases one of the new sushi-rolling machines (often referred to as a "sushi robot"). Though they used to be found only in Japan, these robots are growing in popularity worldwide. The robot perfectly spreads the sticky short-grain sushi rice on the delicate nori, leaving the chef to accomplish the filling and slicing that must be done with skilled hands. The process speeds up production significantly; even on the busiest night, there's no long wait for your sushi at Sushi Kyu!

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sushi train, sushi robot, DK Sushi, DK's Sushi Market, D.K. Lee, Korea Garden, Sushi Kyu

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