|207 San Jacinto Blvd., #202
Austin, TX 78701
I must admit I was a bit taken back when I first heard of this restaurant called Piranha Killer Sushi. I had visions of voracious little fish making me look like I’d been on the Adkins Diet with some help from a chainsaw. But after my first visit, all fears vanished. The only thing that was voracious about Piranha was my appetite when I had my first tastes. Trust me, it’s that good.
Located downtown at 3rd and San Jacinto, Piranha is a delightfully modern looking restaurant with clean lines and a very pristine ambiance. Whoever designed it did a great job.
And the chefs rock as well. Yuzo Toyoma had the biggest hand in the design of the menu while Luciano Borreto and Dien Nguyen handle the hot and cold items respectively. And how about starting with the Sashimi Salad with Conch, Tuna and Julienne Vegetables? I was delighted with my first bit of this lovely dish and it got better after that. The flavors are finely nuanced and I love the crunchy texture! Bravo. Then try the exquisite Salmon Ceviche with jalapeno, cilantro and mango. Again, a dish that both surprised and pleased me. Not your typical sushi bar fare but delicious. Another smash is the Sesame Seared Tuna over chili, aioli and wasabi cream. It is the latter ingredient that takes this over the top for me with taste. What a lovely contrast.
The Maki (or sushi rolls) are in good hands at Piranha. As with the appetizers, there is innovation and diversity. Try the Forget About it Roll which is incorrectly named because you won’t forget about it. The heart of the roll is tempura shrimp, masago, and ginger cream (seriously good flavor) atop which sits avocado and crawfish. Lovely to look at, better to devour! Another slam dunk is the Spider Roll. I have never seen a soft-shell crab along with asparagus and avocado so lovingly assembled that the scallions seem almost superfluous to the taste. Or the Dancing Egg Roll where smoked eel is the star ably abetted by avocado, masago, and cream cheese!
On the hotter side, Luciano can create some really compelling taste experiences. Consider some of my favorite entrees: the Korean Grilled Steak with asparagus satisfies on a number of levels. First, that zesty Korean flavor profile on the meat is irresistible. Secondly, the grilling embraces each unique quality of the beef. The Chicken Yaki Udon with stir-fried vegetables is another crispy treat. The Udon noodle is a staple of Japanese cuisine for good reason. It has terrific texture and can adapt to a variety of styles of preparation, including soup. It certainly works with the chicken.
Surprisingly, for a sushi joint, Piranha also offers a very serviceable Pad Thai with the unusual choice of the thicker Udon noodle compared to the usual rice noodle in this dish. I love the difference in texture and I think you will as well in this lighter dish.
Piranha Killer Sushi is one of the best new restaurants to debut downtown this year. It’s fresh, a little sassy, and as I’ve discovered, endlessly accommodating.