Since its arrival in the U.S. in the early 1950s, sushi has continued to grow in popularity. That’s especially true in Austin, Texas, where dozens of sushi chefs have set up shop over the years. In fact, some of those chefs hail from The Capitol City itself, and learned their craft by taking Austin culinary arts courses.
If you’ve got a hankering for some salmon or tuna rolls, be sure to check out these excellent sushi joints in Austin:
Musashino Sushi Dokoro: This quaint little restaurant might be located in the heart of Austin, but Musashino promises edomae sushi, or a style distinctly inspired by traditional Tokyo dishes. They do so by shipping in ingredients directly from Japan. That not only means the freshest and most authentic plates, the restaurant offers among the largest variety of sushi in all of Austin. Favorites include the seasonal swagani (deep-fried miniature freshwater crabs), a platter of unagi (eel) that’s referred to as U Zaku and favorites like hamachi, suzuki and toro nagashi. Musashino also features several signature sushi dishes, including the Texas Hybrid – a mix of salmon and tuna – and the 34 Special, salmon or tuna topped with several kinds of caviar. Since no dinner would be complete without dessert, Musashino also serves tiramisu and two traditional ice cream blends, macha and ogura.
Uchiko: This restaurant is the off-shoot of the more established Uchi. However, unlike its counterpart, Uchiko features a Japanese farmhouse aesthetic, which emphasizes smaller, more intimate meals in which communal plates are the norm. Calling themselves “Uchi redefined,” Uchiko is also big on sustainability, drawing heavily on natural ingredients while maintaining harmony with the planet itself. That attitude is reflected in the restaurant’s lineup of dishes. While the menu changes from day to day, Uchiko employs a lot of fresh fish, including freshwater eel, Spanish anchovy, scallop, flounder, bass, mackerel and even octopus. Beyond the sushi, Uchiko is also noted for its wide array of sakes, with flavors including brown sugar, creamsicle, butterscotch, ripe plum, honeydew melon and pineapple.
Roll On Sushi Diner: When describing its overall approach to serving sushi, the staff of Roll On like to say they emphasize comfort, modest prices and a knack for experimentation. That latter component is especially prevalent, given the dozen or so Austin-inspired sushi rolls the restaurant has on the menu. To get a taste, try the Beefy Texan, a savory mix of braised brisket, wasabi coleslaw and barbecue aioli sauce. For something salmon related, there is the Rasta Roll, which pairs blackened shrimp with mango, red pepper, cilantro and pineapple habanero. Since Texas is all about fried food, don’t forget the Cholesta Roll, which features chicken friend steak, mashed potatoes and white pepper gravy. If those are too brazen for your tastes, Roll On also features many traditional rolls comprised of unagi, Yellowfish, spicy crab, spicy tuna and several kinds of salmon.
Lucky Robot: Located on South Congress Street, this diner was formerly known as the Zen Japanese Food Fast. However, once the restaurant brought in chef Jay Huang – formerly of Uchi and Uchiko – it expanded into a full-service sushi eatery. The fast food angle may be less of an emphasis, but Lucky Robot still has a playful side. That’s especially notable by the Harajuku-inspired waitresses, servers who wear clothing that’s styled after a fashion forward district in Tokyo. That sense of child-like joy is also found in their sushi plates. For instance, the “Voltron” is an homage by the 1980s cartoon show and is made up of crab, shrimp, avocado and pickled cucumber. Or, there is the Mechazilla roll, a tribute to the Godzilla character that contains spinach, organic tofu and cherve goat cheese. Even with the jokey titles, Lucky Robot takes sushi quite seriously, flying in fresh salmon and tuna several times a week.