Sushi News

Sushi Bars In Transition (Welcome 2012!)

It took a few years for the economic bust to trickle down to Austin area sushi bars, but trickle down it did, and an epic number of sushi bars closed in 2010-2011. Some compression was inevitable, given the huge growth of sushi bars in the mid-2000's, but, surprisingly, some of the old sushi bars have merely been replaced with new ones. During that same period, 8 new (or re-opened) sushi bars have replaced some of the closed ones for a net loss of only 2 sushi bars. Not too shabby.

The dead list:

Korea Garden / KG Sushi Train
Sushi Caliente
Sushi Den
Sushi Sake (downtown)
Yume Sushi Bar and Grill

In their place have risen some new bars during the same 24 months:

AFin Modern Japanese Tapas (was KG Sushi Train)
Bar Chi (was Sushi Sake downtown)
Cho Sushi
Jino's Sushi and Bistro
Nagoya Steak and Sushi
Roll On Sushi

Check out the new locations on the revised sushi bar map.

Japanese Fun Foods

Sushi News: 

Japanese "fun" foods are all the rage these days. They are considerably cheaper and generally easier to make than sushi, yet still retain that special Japanese flavor.  A few weeks ago, Osaka Soul opened, selling okonomiyaki (a sort of hybrid pizza/pancake) out of a trailer in the South First Food Court at 603 W. Live Oak. There is also Afin (owned by the same folks who own Beluga) where you can get Japanese Tapas (izakaya - basically, Japanese pub food). Finally, there's yet another food trailer, the Love Ball Bus, at the Eastside Drive-in selling takoyaki (pancake balls filled with octopus and other goodness).

Sashimi Grade Launches

Sushi News: 

It's never hard to find sushi in Austin as long as your tastes run to the perfunctory, but if you're a sushi bar looking to offer more esoteric items such as katsuo (bonito), kanpachi (amberjack), remora, scorpion fish, african pompano, triggerfish, or shako ebi (mantis shrimp), you might want to give Sashimi Grade a call.
Sashimi Grade
Sashimi Grade is an artisan seafood supplier operating out of Corpus Christi. Their "sustainable" seafood is poll-and-line or troll caught and is "super frozen" at -76 F to ensure the freshest possible result. They often catch such small quantities that they will never advertise them, but only offer them to their select sushi bar customers. They are currently catching fish from the Gulf of Mexico, but hope to be bringing in fish from the Pacific soon. Interested sushi bars should contact them. Need convincing? Download their presentation (PDF format).

More Sushi-busting With DNA

Sushi News: 

A recent study by scientists from the American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University found more evidence that sushi bars are taking liberties with the labeling of their seafood.

They collected 68 samples from 31 establishments in the New York City area. All claimed to be types of tuna (bigeye, yellowtail, albacore, etc).

The results? "Nineteen of 31 restaurants erroneously described or failed to identify the sushi they sold. Twenty-two of 68 samples were sold as species that were contradicted by molecular identification." Lastly, five samples claiming to be tuna were actually from a semi-toxic fish, Escolar, which is banned for sale in some countries for health reasons. Yuck!

Maki Changes Name, Franchises

Sushi News: 

Our favorite roll-your-own sushi place had to change their name from "Maki" to "How Do You Roll" for copyright reasons. They also are offering franchises and have a Twitter feed. Read all about it on their new blog.

Their new downtown location, at 454 W 2nd Street, is now set to open in mid-April.

Farm Raised Unagi Now a Reality

Sushi News: 

Japanese scientists have recently managed the first successful farm bred eel. Until now, small eels were captured in the wild and then transferred to farms. But wild stocks have been depleted, raising fears of extinction, according to this story from the Houston Examiner. The story points out that:

The New, The Old, The ASS

Sushi News: 

Long ago, there was an Austin Sushi Society (ASS). It was a rather hoighty-toighty affair that was never directly associated with this web site. As far as I knew, the ASS didn't last very long. In fact, I think it petered out within a year or so of its creation. But I was wrong. The ASS persists, and, today, it still regularly meets on most first Wednesdays of each month. Holly Jackson still runs the ASS and you can get on her Evite mailing list by sending her an email at: howdyholly [at]

Any yet, there's a new ASS in town, and it's called the ASK - Austin Sushi Club (better than "ASC", right?). The full name is the "Young Professionals Austin Sushi Club" which means that its primary demographic is people with enough free cash to spend on sushi.

Once again, they aren't associated with this web site, but we, as usual, wholly endorse the consumption of el pescado crudo. Join them at:

Sushi Fraud

Sushi News: 

We've covered this story in the past, but it's nice to see the press still working it over. Sushi fraud works because very few people actually recognize the subtle taste differences between various seafoods. So, restaurants can save some big bucks by, for example, serving you pacific rockfish yet claiming it's red snapper (to be fair, it's sometimes the distributors that are deceiving the restaurants, but any seafood establishment worth its salt should know the difference).

In a recent Wired Magazine report on "mislabeled" tuna, researchers ordered tuna from "31 sushi restaurants and then used genetic tests to determine the species of fishes in those dishes. More than half of those eateries misrepresented, or couldn’t clarify, the type of fish they were mongering."

We first covered this type of story wayyyy back in 2001 when the Houston Press reported on red snapper and lobster being faked using pacific rockfish and langoustine as substitutes. Last year, we also reported on the two kids who fingered rogue Manhattan sushi bars by analyzing fish DNA.

In the not-so-distant future, we will all have DNA hand scanners that we can point at our toro sashimi, but until then, caveat emptor....


Sushi News: 

Yanagi might have been just another nice strip-mall sushi bar in South Austin, but what sets them apart is, well, friendliness. On a recent visit, everyone was so nice that I thought we had walked into the wrong place. Warm holiday fuzzies all around.....

4404 W William Cannon Dr
Austin, Texas 78749
(512) 891-0989

New and Not-So-New

Sushi News: 

We've been busy for a while, and a few sushi bars have inadvertantly escaped our attention. Here's a quick rundown:

Sushi Den - way up North on Lamar.

Haiku - way South at I-35 and Slaughter Lane.

Ryu of Japan - way up on Burnet Road.

Oishi - Japanese fusion in the Dobie Mall.