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What I Ate: September 18, 2010 (Sushi Zushi)

Posted 19 September, 2010 at 7:47pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate)

Dinner: We decided to try Sushi Zushi (1611 W 5th St # 105, Austin, TX‎ - (512) 474-7000‎). The menu is insanely large (probably over 90 different rolls available in addition to an long list of hot dishes) with choices ranging from stir-fried to raw, traditional to inventive, and bare bones to heavily sauced. We decided to play it relatively safe tonight since it was our first time at Sushi Zushi.

We started with a Seaweed Only Salad ($4) (they have a large variety of seaweed salads available). This tasted just as we expected.
Sushi Zushi - Seaweed Only Salad

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushroom ($3) - we ordered this extra crispy on the advice of our server, Morgan, who was very helpful throughout the entire meal. I've had better enoki maki elsewhere, but this wasn't bad. The bacon could have been crispier, but the flavors still worked very well with the tender but still chewy enoki mushroom clusters.
Sushi Zushi - Bacon Wrapped Enoki

Oaklawn Roll (with spicy salmon) Fried crawfish, avocado and spicy tuna or spicy salmon rolled uramaki style, topped with colorful tobiko and creamy wasabi sauce ($16) - this was our favorite roll. It was served to us with four different tobiko - three were infused with wasabi, soy sauce, and habanero. Our favorites were the section topped with wasabi tobiko and habanero tobiko. The habanero tobiko adds a little tingly spiciness that I think works very well with the wasabi sauce, tempura crawfish, and spicy salmon.
Sushi Zushi - Oaklawn Roll

Yummy Yummy Roll Eel on top, shrimp tempura, snow crab and avocado inside rolled uramaki style ($15) - With a name like this, how could we not order it? This roll is closest to what I think of as a Dragon Roll (tempura shrimp, avocado, and cucumber wrapped in rice and nori and topped with unagi - which I think I'll refer to as a West Coast Dragon Roll from now on) that we've had in Austin. All the sushi places here make a dragon roll the same way you make a Caterpillar roll - unagi rolls topped with avocado slices. I don't know why. What's interesting is that Sushi Zushi actually makes both a dragon roll (unagi and cucumber roll topped with avocado, masago, and sesame) and a caterpillar roll (unagi, cucumber, and cream cheese roll topped with avocado). The tempura shrimp was mildly warm and wasn't crispy/crunchy like I've come to expect from a west coast dragon roll, but other than that the flavors were pretty decent, but not great.
Sushi Zushi - Yummy Yummy Roll

Crunchy Salmon Skin Roll crunchy salmon skin, yama gobo (pickled burdock), cucumber, and kaiware sprouts rolled uramaki style ($6) - this roll had a nice crunchy texture from the salmon skin as well as from the pickled burdock. Unfortunately, I thought it was a little too dry.
Sushi Zushi - Crunchy Salmon Skin Roll

Uni Nigiri ($7). Generous portions of moderately fresh uni were served. The uni flavor was fairly pronounced with excellent texture (melted into the rice base of which they provide just enough). The sushi rice (zushi) here in general is acceptable. I prefer a little more flavor (both acidity and sweetness) as well as more discrete grains, but it's decent quality overall.
Sushi Zushi - Uni Nigiri

Macha (green tea) Ice Cream and Kuro Goma (black sesame) Ice Cream ($4.50 for green tea and $5.50 for black sesame for a full serving)- We couldn't decide which ice cream to try for dessert, so we had them give us two scoops of black sesame and one of green tea (normally the ice cream dessert is three scoops of the same flavor). The black sesame was excellent with a strong, pleasant toasted black sesame flavor that worked really well with the cream flavor of the ice cream base. The green tea ice cream was pretty good too, but it just couldn't compete against the black sesame ice cream
Sushi Zushi - Black Sesame and Green Tea Ice Cream

Service was good - people swept in to remove plates, poured tea, removed excess menus, and the like without being obtrusive. Our server was knowledgeable about the expansive menu and was able to make recommendations based on our food preferences.

The ambiance was modern and casual with attentive but not pretentious wait staff. The bar was filled with people watching the UT game against Texas Tech occasionally resulting in loud (almost deafening) bursts of enthusiastic cheering as UT scored a game winning touchdown. The other patrons were varied from twenties to forties mainly with a large party in a backroom. Service was fast and flexible. They did not balk at my culturally ridiculous request for sugar to add to my hot green tea (something I would never consider at more Japanese sushi restaurant like Musashino or Ryu of Japan) - going so far as to bring me a tiny saucer and tea spoon to stir in the sugar without my asking. Little touches like this made the dinner that much more pleasant and helped us feel eager to return.
Sushi Zushi

With so many items on the menu, repeat visits are needed to find what they do best and which flavors please our palates the most. Of the items we did taste, I would recommend the Oaklawn Roll and the black sesame ice cream without reservation.

Lunch: Tina and I shared a couple tamales (one chicken and one beef wrapped in banana leaf) from a vendor at the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market.
Sunset Valley Farmer's Market - Tamales
Sunset Valley Farmer's Market - Tamales

1 comment to What I Ate: September 18, 2010 (Sushi Zushi)

Optimista, September 19th, 2010 at 7:57 pm:

  • Good to know some better things on the menu at Sushi Zushi. I've only been once, for lunch, and I thought the nigiri was sort of awful. But maybe it was just a misorder or an off day.