Sushi Bar Review

East Austin, arguably the fastest growing neighborhood in the city, has witnessed the birth of many new restaurants, offering a diverse array of upscale fare to choose from. Usually serving out of redone historic homes, the culinary scene on the Eastside is expanding at a rapid pace with a unique personality and style that marries the intimate, homey atmosphere of the neighborhood with gastronomic excellence. Thus, it is safe to say that Sushi Bar, the new Omakase restaurant on Cesar Chavez and 2nd street, juxtaposes its modest surroundings. Inside of the unassuming, seafoam green house, I had an unforgettable 17-course Omakase tasting, complete with curated sake pairings and A+ hospitality. This review will cover the highlights of the meal, beverages, and hospitality. 

Food, Sake and the Dining Experience 

I stepped into Sushi Bar on a bright Tuesday afternoon with my work certainly cut out for me. With 17 courses total, I was excited, and slightly daunted at the prospect of it all. Upon entering, I was enveloped in the warm, dark mood lighting of the converted house, complete with dark, mahogany fixtures. Sake bottles lined the walls of the lounge area to which the host directed me to sit while I waited. I was quickly served a welcome cocktail–a sake-based grapefruit rosemary concoction, as I took in my surroundings. It was sweet, herby, and effervescent.

With a coveted 10-seat dining room, Sushi Bar is a reservation-only establishment that invites you to get to know the chefs and fellow diners. Omakase in Japanese means, “I’ll leave it up to you”, and is a synonym for the Chef’s Choice. It is an experience that leans heavily into tradition, perfection, and above all, trust in your Chef. Thus, an Omakase tasting involves a great deal of guidance from the Chefs through each plate, heightening the experience and inspiring reflection on the diner’s behalf. Omakase cuisine is so special because it harps on quality ingredients, time, technique, and consideration. Every item is served at the time of its preparation, at optimal temperatures for the particular courses’ fish. There is notably an absence of chopsticks or soy sauce, as per tradition. Additionally, there is an array of pickled vegetables placed out to serve as a palette cleanser.

Thus, Chefs Aiko and Christian were extremely knowledgeable and walked the dining group and I through every bite. We began with a tuna tartare hand roll, which was a perfect introductory course to the ones that followed. The bartender recommended a sake pairing for the experience, to which I chose White Junmai Ginjo Sake, a fruity, slightly dry, and green apple-forward beverage. The next bite was scallop, topped with fresh shaved truffle. As decadent as it sounds, it was also deliciously fresh and slightly sweet. Next was the spicy shima aji, which was citrusy and bright, with the perfect fattiness. Some of my favorite courses were the buttery Indonesian snow crab nigiri, the otoro (tuna belly) topped with foie gras, and the delectable unagi (eel). My second and final sake of the night, the Imayotsukasa, emphasized notes of chocolate and cream, yet still tasted remarkably clean, pairing perfectly with the fattier fish. The dinner incorporated star ingredients from both land and sea, showcasing components like yuzu oil, fried shallots, and kewpie mayo. Every course improved and expanded on itself, complete with intense flavors of umami, acid, salt, sweetness, and fat. The dessert, a black sesame ice cream with passionfruit and Italian meringue, has occupied my mind ever since I left. 

Conclusion 

Sushi Bar was an A+ restaurant experience. I consider myself to know a thing or two about sourcing good sushi in Austin, but this was easily the best sushi I’ve ever tried in my life. Every sense was considered and delicately taken care of for our evening, from taste, to sight, to sound. The homey ambiance matched the traditional intimacy of Omakase, and this was brought to life by the incredible hospitality from the entire staff. Each course, paired with expertly chosen sakes, delights the palate with a symphony of flavors, leaving a lasting impression of Omakase mastery. Sushi Bar is undeniably a standout destination for those seeking nigiri in east Austin’s dynamic culinary scene.