|9070 Research Blvd. Ste. #305
Austin, TX 78758
201 Sundance Pkwy., Ste. #D
Round Rock, TX 78681
One of the great secrets to weight loss and management, mine included, is to find foods that not only taste good but are actually good for you. So don’t be surprised if you see me fairly often at the new Tokyo Steakhouse at Research and Burnet in North Austin. The beauty of pristine sashimi and the searing flavors of the tepanyaki grill amount to beautiful and healthy forays into prime flavor profiles. This is a fun place to dine!
I always begin a meal here with with some of the freshest and tastiest sashimi in town. I tend to go for the Maguro (tuna) with its rich flavors and vibrant coloring. And the Hamachi (yellowtail) is an absolute taste treasure: I can never get enough of the wonderful oils and the lovely aftertaste that are characteristic of this “luxury” fish. The Escolar is another nice choice for sashimi. This super-white tuna is soft and buttery, and Tokyo’s Sushi chefs treat it with the respect it deserves.
And the Sushi Rolls are original and, as a rule, quite good. The Spider Roll is a long-time Balon family favorite, and the blend of soft shell crab, masago, avocado and cucumber provides maximum blends of flavor along with lovely texture. The Catepillar Roll is another strong recommendation. I love the taste and texture of eel as it’s wrapped around cucumber and adorned with avocado. A little sake goes well with this one. And the texture ramps up as we try the Crunchy Roll. This is deep-fried white fish and salmon with a spicy housemade sauce, and then topped with scallions and masago (Capelin roe). Tokyo prepares a great version of this “maki.”
Still more precursors to the main event can be found in the appetizers. The Pan-Fried Pork Dumplings are damned good, tender and lightly fried. And the Kushiyaki Beef, which is a simple yet compelling mix of grilled beef and asparagus, has a really lively flavor with beautiful textures.
And the Calamari Tempura absolutely lights up the night. The calamari emerges with an exquisite tenderness complemented with a spot-on yet delicate batter. And the Baked Stuffed Avocado consists of half an avocado shell stuffed with masago roe, ebi, kani (crab) and a spicy mayo (and delightfully so if spice is your metier), then irresistibly baked so the flavors some together! And this is a mandate from me: you must try the Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crab with citrus Ponzu sauce. This has drop-dead flavors in each crispy and juicy bite!
Alright, I still have an appetite left, so let’s take on the main attraction. Tokyo has grill masters who are one part skilled artisans and one part performers from Cirque du Soleil! They slice and dice vegetables with a nimble dexterity, create the mandatory onion volcano, get the fried rice going (you must try at least some of that), and create an engaging vibe at their grills that can have groups of complete strangers bonding and singing “kumbaya” in a matter of moments.
I have thus far tried the Hiachi Shrimp. There’s something about the intense heat of the grill that sears the flavors into the shrimp. A dip in the right sauce and a taste of the grilled veggies, and voila! The flavors are unmatched. Likewise I’ve enjoyed the plump and flavorful Sea Scallops. Again, the tepanyaki style brings out the best in this beautiful shellfish. Flavors explode on your palate and amazing taste events begin to occur. And no trip to the grill would be complete without the Tokyo Chateaubriand. This classic thick cut from the tenderloin gets diced into much smaller bites than one would normally see if ordered in a steakhouse. But that’s the beauty of Tepanyaki cooking. Don’t order it more than medium-rare, and you’ll be rewarded with rich, superlative flavors. Each bit is an homage to tenderness.
Tokyo Steakhouse sits in the building where Benihana had such a long run. But restaurants come and go, and fans of the previous occupant will be more than pleased with the job the new owners have done in constructing a rich and rewarding menu. So as noted, look for me here often. And I’ll probably just have a bite of the fried rice!