Tag Archives: sushi

So, you’re visiting my town: The Food Edition

launderette-east-austin
Launderette

I meet a lot of tourists on Tinder. I know that’s a weird thing to admit, but I find it entertaining. I can’t open that ridiculous app without seeing 200 new messages from: Australians on road trips, British businessmen, touring musicians, or software engineers from out of town throwing a bachelor party. For a while, I would share my nightlife guide of where to go out (which I still recommend), but more often than not I get asked about where to eat. Well, guy-likely-holding-up-some-animal-he-killed-in-his-profile-photo, here’s your guide:

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Torchy’s Tacos

Everyone wants to know where they ‘have to’ go. That’s subjective, since you may have a certain price range, or food style that you want. I am seasoned enough to know that everyone wants tacos, and barbecue when they come. Fair enough! I get it. Tacos are amazing.

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Mellizoz

I would definitely start at Torchy’s Tacos. Get the queso. Don’t question me. Just get it. President Obama ate there, and he didn’t get the queso. It broke my heart. Also, it’s best to go to the truck on South 1st. BYO? You know it. I’d say Mellizoz, and Taco Deli are also great in their own right, but Torchy’s is special. Ask for some diablo sauce, and if you ask for anything to be made ‘trashy’ they remove the lettuce, and add queso. Another great stop is Veracruz All Natural which is just up the road from La Barbecue.

torchy-tacos-queso
Torchy’s Tacos

I will not name names, but I cringe when tourists consistently tell me they have been to _________ Barbecue, and loved it. No! That is not good barbecue. Why do you all go there?! Who is spreading lies that you should go to this place?! WHY!? Again, I’ll never tell you which place it is, but if you feel compelled to go there, and it’s not Franklin or La Barbecue, then definitely reconsider what you’re about to do. Yes, the rumors about the Franklin line are true, but it’s part of the charm. You bring a bunch of booze, show up around 8 in the morning, and proceed to get hammered for the next 3 hours. La Barbecue is going to be a lot easier to get into, and there’s a lot of debate about which one is best.

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Brunch at Odd Duck

In my last guide, I talked a lot about the food trucks you can find on East 6th. There’s some incredible Asian food, and a very famous pizza truck connected to one of my go-to dive bars. If that appeals to you, and it should, refer back to that.

thai-kun
Thai-Kun

Now, onto my favorite part: FANCY FOOD. Don’t get scared yet! I know the touring musicians just clicked away from this page, but the British businessmen with company cards know what I’m talking about. (Also, I totally will tell you when the happy hour is, so don’t panic – if I can afford it, you can too).

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Uchiko

Austin is home to the number one sushi restaurant in the country. That’s right. Yes, I know we’re not near water, and you’re not the first person to inform me of that. I get it. You’re surprised. Uchiko has got to be my favorite place on earth, and their daily happy hour is 5-6:30. Sit at the bar, and prepare to be blown away. They’re fresh, inventive, and worth it. If you’re reading this, and want to take me there? You should. #rly #yarly #srsly

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Odd Duck

Another incredible spot is Odd Duck, and if you’re looking for a life-changing brunch, this is the spot for you. They also have a happy hour, and happen to be next to Uchi, the sister restaurant to my beloved Uchiko. If you’re situated on the east side (like me!) then I highly recommend Launderette.

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Mellizoz

Now, keep in mind that there are hundreds and hundreds of other restaurants around, but these are the ones that I like, and for good reason. I would say Uchiko is my ‘must,’ but this is your trip, and you do you! There are many other wonderful restaurants that specialize in specific food types such as: Barlata for tapas, Clark’s Oyster Bar/Perla’s for incredible seafood, and the renowned Ramen Tatsu-Ya for, well… that’s obvious. I’m sure that I left a lot out, but this is a good guide to get you started. I hope it helped out, and yes, you can buy me a drink.

Happier Hour: Soto Japanese Restaurant

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I’m probably one of this city’s biggest sushi fans, and make a point to try and sample every single sushi bar within driving distance. Soto may be a little on the north side of things, but after hearing numerous rave reviews, I thought it might be worth a 20 minute “road trip.”

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We knew that it would be all night happy hour on Monday, so that’s the night we went. The space was intimate and dark, but quickly went from nearly empty to brimming with diners in a matter of minutes.

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The happy hour menu included rolls, as well as some cooked items. We ordered the salmon collar, which was delicious, but a bit bony, which is to be expected with certain parts of the fish.

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My seafood-weary partner got adventurous and tried exotic-to-him pieces of nigiri, and several sashimi orders. He loved every bit of it.

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Despite service being a bit slow (they were a little understaffed on that particular night), we decided to stick around for dessert. I couldn’t sample anything sweet because of my (insert curse words here) diet, and so I watched in agony as my dining companion licked the bowl clean from his green tea tiramisu dessert. Next time you’re looking for high-end, well-presented sushi, look no further than Soto. A lot of people are calling them the “Uchi of the north,” but I think that creatively, they have their own thing going for them, and they really are in a league of their own.

Lunch at Lucky Robot

Green Machine
People have been talking about this crazily decorated new place on SoCo, and we decided to investigate. It’s called Lucky Robot, and they’re definitely something different.

Green Machine (again!)
The moment that you’re seated you’ll hear a long spiel about how to use the “iPad ordering system.” It’s pretty easy if you’re used to a tablet, so don’t feel intimidated. You put things in at the same time if you want them to come out together, and put them in later if you want them later (helloooo deciding I want another roll!).



Japanese Pizza?
We absolutely loved our first dish, ‘The Green Machine,’ which was a sashimi dish comprised of albacore, avocado, serrano, and cilantro. I loved it, and enjoyed checking the nutritional info on each item using their ordering system. 
That means the pizza (shown above) didn’t make the cut for healthiest dishes, but it was a delicious, cabbage-based mess that totaled in at only 560 calories. It was easily shareable, and we couldn’t even fathom finishing it. Have a group? This is the dish to pick.


We didn’t just have the ‘Green Machine’ and ‘Japanese Pizza’ (which is nothing like pizza, BTW, it’s more like a vegetable pancake mixed with delicious seafood — tastes great with sriracha). We also had the salmon kimchi. It neither looked nor tasted as good as we wanted it to be. For someone that loves both kimchi and salmon sashimi, this was the disappointment of the meal. Stick to the other sashimis, and avoid this one (unless, you REALLY love kimchi, which I thought I did, but really…).
iPad ordering at Lucky Robot
At the end of the day, we want to go back. I loved the first sashimi specialty (the green one, not the kimchi one), and enjoyed a decent $5 cold sake. My partner loved the specialty items, such as the “Japanese pizza,” and we both got to pretend like we’re going to get skinny in the ‘New Year’ by checking up on the calories on each. There is a table with a swing-set for a chair in the back, and I really hoped to sit there, but not everything goes my way. Just most things.

Here’s my overall comments on the ordering system:

 Need a server? Use the iPad.
Need a drink? Use the iPad.
Need to add something to your order? Use the iPad.
Need your check? Use the iPad.
Want to see nutritional information? Use the iPad.
Want to split checks? …hit the server button on the iPad.

Oh, and we’re totally up to try new places. Feel free to tell us which to try next! We recently started a Facebook page. Please feel free to like us.




Lunch at Roll On Sushi Diner


Pork Dumplings
We recently ventured just a hair north of our usual “downtown bubble” to grab a late lunch at Roll On Sushi Diner. With quick service, inventive rolls, and a slight obsession with social media (hey! I can relate!) they won us over.



The Hippie

It would have been nice if we had made it in time for happy hour, which is the usual Monday-Friday 5-7 business with a nice lunchtime edition available on Saturday from 11-1. Then we could’ve gotten dumplings and nigiri for under $3, and washed it all down with $1 off beer and wine. Regardless of not having perfect timing, the prices were still completely fair.

The Grouch

My hippie roll tasted as healthy as it was, and that’s not a bad thing. Roll On is pretty famous for their less healthy items, like the Cholesta Roll which involves mashed potatoes, chicken fried steak, and green beans. My partner, who has absolutely no qualms about putting things like chicken into sushi, loved “The Grouch.” It was roasted chicken, green chile, jack cheese, onions, arugula, and aioli. He won’t admit it, but I think he secretly loves mayo/aioli, so it was a double-win for him. As soon as this is published, he will be mad at me, but I’m not the one with a jar of remoulade, mayo, and sour cream in my refrigerator YOU DAIRY LOVER!

Seaweed Salad

Roll On has a real 50’s diner feel, hospitable owners, and even a flat screen displaying all the tweets people make about them, which of course is what I was doing while eating because you know, if a tree falls in a forest and no one tweets about it…

Blogger Tasting at Mizu Steak & Sushi

Mizu Steak & Sushi has a beautiful view of the Texas hillcountry, but you’re going to have to drive for it. 


The happy hour runs from 5-7 and features discounted dishes, $5 wines, $4 “premium wells,” and a couple of discounted beers. The specialty cocktails are truly special, but they’re still full-price.


Some Yelp reviewers will tell you that Mizu has the best calamari in town. It’s definitely different- somehow lighter, sweeter, and less tough than any that I’ve ever tried. My photographer for this event, Matthew Blanchard, absolutely loved it.


The spicy edamame, miso sea bass, and sashimi were hands down my favorite dishes. 


Most sashimi dishes included herbs and fruit. The hamachi crudo was served with ginger pear puree, kumquat, and jalapeño, while the tuna tartar was served with watermelon and stone fruit.


The baked roll (shown above) was very rich. It contained everything from cream cheese to spicy aioli. 


By the time dessert rolled around, I was convinced that I was going to die (we were stuffed)! It was worth risking death to taste the delicious cinnamon ice cream that accompanied the warm brandied bread pudding.


Chocolate cake was a hit with the crowd, but I was more fascinated by the banana nutella cake.


As you can see, I went up a pants size on this particular night.

The takeaway: Mizu has a great happy hour, gorgeous view, and a LOT of flat screens (if sports are your thing). The calamari is a must-try, as is the edamame. The quality is better than the downtown sushi joints, so if you feel like taking a scenic drive, try them out!

Original photos by Matt Blanchard

Happy Hour at Uchi

Let me try to think of something about Uchi that no one has ever blogged about before…


How about “social hour?” (their fancy name for happy hour.) Surely no one’s truly covered that before, right? Let’s do it! All things pictured in this post (so far we have the seared escolar and the shag roll, about $6 each), except for the nigiri, are part of the discount from 5-6:30 every day!


People in Austin say that Uchi is impossible to get into, and impossible to afford. Lies! Get there around 5, especially if it’s on “date night,” and cozy up at the sushi bar. You can get full for under $50. We did. And we each had hot sake for under $5.


Odds are, you live in Austin, and already know that everything served is going to be perfect and blow your mind. That is mostly true, with the exception of the crunchy/spicy tuna roll. We weren’t exactly dazzled.


The nigiri, chef’s choice, seemed to be one of the greatest deals. When you do the math of ordering piece by piece or letting the chefs pick out 7, you come out ahead.


The hama chili, which we often order in a slightly larger quantity and price at Uchiko, was possibly the highlight of our social hour adventure.

The takeaway is obvious: Uchi is an option, even if you’re not rolling in the dough! Have a nice date night, drink some $7 white wine, and keep it fancy. 

Dinner at Marker 10

Marker 10 at The Hyatt offers a gorgeous view of Town Lake, happy hour 4-7, and a surprisingly delightful sushi bar Tuesday through Saturday.


Their signature rolls are enormous, and to die for. If you want to order off of their Southwest Bistro menu, you can do that as well.


Clearly, we ordered off of both.


My only complaint is the price of cocktails. They’re around $11 a pop, but they are the kind of quality drinks you see at bars that charge around $10 anyway. 

The takeaway: Go to Marker 10! Run, don’t walk! And be sure to enjoy that patio before the blistering heat sets in!

Happy Hour at Uchiko

Uchiko has “Saké Social” from 5-6:30 every day. It can get crowded on date night, but if you get there early, and crawl your way to the bar, it’s well worth it.
They have $3 and $6 options (in addition to the full, regularly priced menu) such as diver scallop ceviche, eggplant nigiri, pork belly, and hand rolls.


The brussel sprouts, grilled edamame, and aforementioned scallops are must-haves on the social hour menu.


Hot saké and wine are discounted to $3 and $7 for select choices. I tried a saké cocktail, but preferred alternating between hot saké, and the discounted Picpoul (white wine).


We moved onto the regular menu and skipped my favorite sushi piece, the boquerones, for various, delicious others, and hamachi sashimi (best thing we had there that night).


The rolls can get pretty impressive, and are perfectly balanced so that wasabi and soy sauce aren’t needed for the table.


The desserts are innovative and both the fried milk and tobacco cream are the best desserts in town. The buttermilk and cilantro dessert shown above is also to die for, and apparently looks like an alien.

To summarize: Uchiko is my favorite restaurant, Michael is my favorite bartender there, and the social hour is the best time to go.




Happy Hour at Bar-Chi

If you haven’t had happy hour (or the even more famous, reverse happy hour) at Bar Chi, well… Now you know. Go!


They have a ton of rolls, which are the real way to go for value, and hot saké so cheap that you’re guaranteed to text your ex by the time you head out.


Is the fish quality to die for? No. It isn’t Uchi, and you aren’t paying Uchi pricing, but for the buck? It’s the best damn sushi you can afford.


The bar staff is incredibly kind, and I’m a huge fan of the spicy saké mary (extra spicy). 

With nigiri prices as low as $1.50, enough pickled ginger for you to start channeling Ginger Spice (Girl power!), and so many cheap saké/cocktail options (avoid the wine) that you can easily land yourself  in YouTube fame/shame history after a few? 

Get thee to Bar Chi now! (or rather for happy hour, which is 3-7 Monday-Saturday, all day Sunday, and reverse from 10-12 Thursday-Saturday.)



Lunch At Piranha Killer Sushi


I’m a huge fan of GrouponNow and LivingSocial, and since there’s a “$5 for $10″ and “$4 for $8″ deal for Piranha going on, I had to go. For a downtown spot during lunch hour it was pretty empty.


The bento box specials are the best way to go. You get miso soup and a ton of food for just $12.95 (or should I say $2.95 since I used the Groupon?).


I chose the “Sushi Bento,” but wish I’d went with the “Sashimi Bento” instead. The booze was not cheap, and I don’t recommend drinking here unless it’s during happy hour which generally lasts from 4-7.


The quality is high in comparison to most other downtown sushi joints,
and the bento boxes are enormous.


Piranha offers a very decent lunch deal, but $7 hot sake is a bit much.
Wait until happy hour when it drops to $2.50.