1303 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704
The Lucky Robot blends traditional Japanese culinary sophistication with high-tech gadgetry to create a tasty and somewhat edgy but accommodating environment.
Weisberg and staff have added an iPad ordering system (hence the name Robot) and minimal table service, something not seen at fast casual Zen. Gadgetry notwithstanding though, it all comes down to the food. And so far so good.
Some of the Zen favorites remain like the crispy Sunomono cucumber salad. But the Japanese Street Corn and the crisped Brussel Sprouts are new and exceptionally tasty. The Lemongrass soy adds a new dimension of flavor.
The menu also offers composed Sashimi plates and numerous maki rolls. I like the Salmon Kimchi. The Atlantic salmon paired with the Korean-influenced cabbage and snap peas is a delight. Likewise for the clever Hamachi Serrano. This offers a melange of primal and provocative flavors with the taste tied together by the habanero scallion oil along with the ponzu. On the maki side, I am fond of the Hama Hama Roll with pristine yellowtail along with yuzu miso. The Salmon Nasu is a model of creativity and taste: the key being the miso-grilled eggplant which initiates the first flavor profile and then the salmon on top.
There are a number of other innovations on the entree front. Had any Okonomiyaki lately? That translates to Japanese street fare and The Robot has its share. The Japanese pizza with shrimp and krab is very approachable and tasty. I also really enjoyed the Bo Ssam which is a wonderful version of pork belly crusted with brown sugar. Add kimchee, red leaf lettuce and rice, and the flavor composite is complete. I will order this again. And Zen fans will be glad to note that the build-your-own-bowl concept from the older store remains.
Some will inevitably complain that the waitstaff is not engaged enough in this new concept. I personally did not have a problem with the ease of ordering and paying via the iPad and the timely delivery of my food. So, domo arigato Lucky Roboto! I’ll see you there.