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Photo courtesy Jay Huang

The best sushi in Austin

You'll find the best sashimi, nigiri, and maki at these sushi restaurants in Austin, from conveyor belt sushi to omakase speakeasies.

James Wong
Written by
James Wong
Contributor
Kelly Stocker
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Like its population, Austin's sushi scene is booming, and despite being landlocked, the city is never short of the ocean’s best. Yes, there was a time when only a handful of sushi restaurants existed, but now we are spoiled for choice. Goodbye, average Japanese restaurants and supermarket packaged maki dominating the scene. Hello, to acclaimed sushi chefs, uber trendy omakase speakeasies with Texas-sized waitlists, and creativity worthy of a Michelin star.

Whether you are after a romantic candlelit omakase, a trusted takeout spot, or conveyor belt sushi like they do in Tokyo, the chefs of Austin are bringing the freshest seafood, ingredients, and talent. Here are 12 quality sushi spots to please even the pickiest palate.

Recommended: the best Japanese food in Austin

Best sushi in Austin

Best known as Austin’s premier date spot, Sushi|Bar’s an intimate omakase experience with just 10 seats and a mammoth waitlist. Chef Ambrely Ouimette and her dapper team prepare 17 courses of creativity-designed sushi in front of your eyes. The menu is rotating, but sample items include roasted bone marrow with fresh wasabi and soy sauce and a Wagyu that’s so soft and buttery that it retains the texture of toro (there’s that, too). Sake pairings and special additions are available. Finish with the toasted coconut shaved ice. Reservations are released at noon on the first of every month for the next month. If unsuccessful, check their social media for dropouts.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • South River City
  • price 4 of 4

The newer omakase restaurants in A-town aren’t the only ones strict about guest participation. Otoko’s 12-seats mean the same effort must be made to enjoy a multi-course omakase experience helmed by Chef Yoshi Okai. You purchase tickets ahead of time, and reservations are available the first of every month on a rolling three-month basis. Each dining experience blends Tokyo-style sushi and Kyoto-style kaiseki into a unique tasting menu based on ingredient availability and seasonality. All reservations for the restaurant include a 30-minute cocktail reservation in their attached bar, Watertrade.

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For an authentic Japanese experience, head to Airport Blvd for Austin’s very own conveyor belt sushi. Kura has over 140 menu items, which can be found on the dual belts or to order via tableside tablet. You’ll find everything here from nigiri to rolls, tempura, and udon, drinks (sake to green tea), and dessert (mochi to watermelon). Stack your plates up high and feast on goodies made with premium, fresh ingredients that are free from anything artificial. The salmon toro and tamago (omelet) will transport you to Tokyo, while the tempura Philly roll and Texan roll will circle you right back. Download the app to reserve a table in advance.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Swedish Hill Historic District

Fukumoto is a sushi bar and yakitori izakaya headed by former Musashino chef Kazu Fukumoto. The sushi here is as fresh as they come, the marinated and grilled yakitori menu is extensive, and with a music selection that’s a kooky mix of country, ’80s and techno, you’ll find that any pretension is drowned out. Enthusiastic servers will help you navigate the menu and offer beverage pairings, and Fukumoto himself is always on-site, actually working, meaning what leaves the kitchen does so with his blessing. Try to get a seat at the sushi bar, where the chef will check in on you in his reserved and gracious manner. We recommend ordering his choice sushi platter and allowing the server to recommend yakitori specials.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Bouldin

One of Austin’s original trendy sushi spots, Uchi first landed on Austin’s dining scene in 2003 and has stood the test of time. Uchi translates to ‘house’ in Japanese, and stepping in is like stepping into a cozy home crafting fine cuts of fish, which some might say veer on the small side, but nevertheless, are creatively delicious. Their menus change often and range wide enough to appeal to novices and connoisseurs, who can compare, say, three different kinds of sea urchin while their warier companions sample tempura-fried Brie alongside “clean, crisp, light” sakes and white wines. Sister restaurant, Uchiko, can be found by Rosedale.

You’ll recognize Lucky Robot (the first sustainable sushi restaurant in Texas, no less) by the bright pink, white and black geometric street art adorning the outside. Inside, you’ll find a similarly hip vibe with stunning Sakura decor and swings taking the place of booths at some tables. The menu is Nikkei-inspired by the brilliant Chef Jay Huang, who takes Japanese dishes and punctuates them with the chiles and spices of Latin America. It’s extensive, featuring hot and cold appetizers, omakase, sushi and sashimi, ramen, steamed buns, and brunch. Our faves are the dumplings (all of them) with funky dipping sauce selection and the vegan nigiri, which includes Zucchini Ahimi and Bok Choy Ohitashi. Don’t forget the sake.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Northwest Austin

Soto has long been a magical wonderland and now boasts an additional location on South Lamar. Chef Andy determines the specials as their fish arrives (twice weekly from the sea of Japan and other oceans), so there’s always something new and surprising. House standouts are the Hotate - Hokkaido scallop with ponzu, yuzu tobiko and sudachi, o-toro sashimi, and the fried Kumamoto oyster with chives and micro cilantro. If you’re looking for something heartier, their uni (sea urchin) pasta, grilled Chilean sea bass, and truffle risotto with wagyu are consistently available. The lunch is an excellent deal, and happy hour specials are available too.

This sexy Japanese sushi and robata kitchen is one of downtown’s coolest hangouts, fueled by a gorgeous bar carrying one of the most comprehensive lists of Japanese whiskeys, sake, and beers (as well as international wines and cocktails) that we’ve seen from a sushi joint. But they’re not the star attraction: you’ll find on the dinner menu a variety of rolls, sashimi, tempura, crudos, and skewers, including the inventively delicious quail egg nigiri and the wagyu nigiri (both from the premium section—treat yourself). With TenTen sashimi, more is more: go for the 18-piece chef’s selection for the best of the rest.

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Got a nice ATX pad? Then it’d be a shame not to throw a private chef into the mix. Sushi master John Gocong (who has worked with the likes of Nobu and Uchi, no less) whips up the ultimate omakase tasting experience—a journey of 15-23 courses composed of a mix of crudos, nigiri, and yakitori, finished with a seasonal dessert and option for sake pairing. Expect the finest cuts money can buy delivered anywhere within Austin and the Hill Country (including Cedar Park, Round Rock, and Dripping Springs). Simply reserve in advance, let him in 30 minutes before dinner time, and let the magic happen.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Milwood
  • price 2 of 4

People who know about “Tomo” loathe to give up the secret of this little spot. Formerly of Nobu in Vegas, the owners (husband and wife team, Steve Riad and Tina Son) are fanatic about quality and creativity. Regardless of what kind of sushi eater you are, Tomo’s menu has options galore, from the Japanese “lasagna” roll, dancing eel roll, and the Say My Name to live scallops, abalone clam, and kampachi. It is quite small, so hit it during off times or prepare to wait.

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The original team behind Sushi|Bar ATX have opened their own omakase experience within the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines. Yes, it’s a bit of a trek out to the woods, but the quality of catch, to most, is worth the gas. Like its famous predecessor, Sushi by Scratch offers 10 seats in an intimate setting, 17 courses of nigiri and more from land and sea (think: Texas wagyu and Wilk, a New England sea snail), alongside options to add sake pairings and chef-special extra courses (we had the foie gras). Every dish is expectedly delicious, so for sure, come on over. But if you’ve already done Sushi|Bar ATX and have no interest in golf or Bastrop, you might want a little more bang for all that highway effort.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • price 2 of 4

In the mood for Japanese food with a view? Tadashi is located in the Hill Country Galleria, and the menu makes the trek worth it. Head out for wild-caught super bluefin, jack mackerel, barracuda, and smooth flutemouth. The roll selection is huge and varied. Check out the non-sushi portion of the menu as well, which features the likes of Donburi (steamed rice, minced shrimp, carrots, green onion, choice of eel or yellowtail), Chicken Katsu (topped with Japanese barbecue sauce, with rice and cabbage salad) and Teriyaki (choice of meat, seafood or tofu) with rice and vegetables.

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