Kazu Fukomoto was a fixture at Musashino on Greystone for 16 years. His easy smile (wide eyes resembling a Japanese anime) and his dexterity with the blade made him quite popular among fans of the restaurant.
But it was time for him to move on, to take that next step most sushi men yearn for. And Austin was in need of a true Izakaya. So last year at E 6th and Medina Kazu opened his namesake Izakaya, Fukumoto. An Izakaya is a kind of Japanese-style Gastropub featuring a variety of beers and sakes along with sushi and many street-food type dishes (yakitori). Shared plates are standard and the social component is equally critical. The more convivial, the better.
When the door opens to Fukomoto, your eyes are drawn to the bar on the left, the open food prep area directly in the center, and throngs of crowded, noisy tables to the right. A server appears quickly and I order a nice lager Tiger beer from Thailand. Marge had the same.
And then the feasting began. Yakitori (grilled chicken thigh skewers) came first. The Pork Belly dish looked delightful as well. Note to self: next visit. The thighs were tender, beautifully seasoned and had just the right amount of char. I tried the Himachi toro sushi next and as it had so many times before in the hands of Kazu, it was almost gossamer, expertly sliced and splendid.
A dish with which I was not familiar came next. But the server convinced me to try it. Karaage is fried organic chicken with a Tokyo negi sauce and it was beautifully tender with a splendid mouth feel and perfect texture. The Kaki Furai came next. These were fried oysters, lightly breaded, and served over a curry mayo. I was a bit put off by the curry initially (thanks to my American palate) but by the third oyster everything had evened out and I was thinking about another order. Then came what is perhaps the most accessible dish to diners not familiar with an Izakaya: and this was the comforting Cornflake Shrimp with a Japanese tartar and Sushito peppers. I found it very appealing as well and I’m hardly a novice.
Only one dish did not particularly resonate and that was the Homemade Silky Tofu. The flavor was acceptable but the sauce had an aftertaste that was not pleasant.
Finally we ended with a tempura dish: the Greenbeans with a sumptuous miso aioli. Couldn’t get enough of this. The sauce was comforting along with being eminently engaging. That’s a great combination.
We left Fukumoto with most of the tables still full and the celebration of life and culture that is indeed an Izakaya in full swing. Will we be back? Oh yeah!!!