The Chronicle>'s Melody Fury discovered that details matter at upscale sushi restaurant Kyoten Sushiko, though the restaurant’s chef and its customers may be focused on different things. It grew from humble beginnings as chef Otto Phan’s sushi trailer Kyoten, which was often credited with serving some of the best sushi in Austin, which translated well for the brick and mortar.
Fury reported that the attention and care Phan pays to the dishes secures it as a destination for dedicated sushi enthusiasts:
"Each of the 20 courses, 14 of which were nigiri, were distinctly impressive. By experimenting with curing fish in the trailer, Phan has now refined his technique to a science. Umi masu (Tasmanian ocean trout) was cured in seaweed, resulting in a smooth creamy texture and an oceany sweetness. Meanwhile, akami (lean tuna) preserved in salt for two weeks successfully removed any trace of an iron aftertaste. Each piece was matched with one of three preparations of carefully seasoned rice."
While Phan summarizes sushi is as a "harmonious experience between the unity of fish and rice," the same balance has not been achieved to Fury. This was between the detail-driven chef’s exceptional dishes and the "minimalist white room decorated only with a framed photo of the food trailer," paired with the "confusingly stark silence." Fury described it like this:
We began awkwardly making small talk in what felt like a sensory deprivation tank. Phan explained that he's sensitive to sound so he muted the room, which was fine, but I was praying that he would at least chat with us. Instead, he often met our questions with abrupt responses that discouraged dialogue.
If the stark and silent atmosphere isn’t your vibe, Fury points out that thankfully the restaurant added a casual counter-service lunch, which saw the return of the trailer’s lauded boxed-style sushi, rolls, rice bowls, and more. There are also new additions such as poke, seaweed, and hamachi salad. Dine-in or takeout — if you want a heaping helping of ambience and a warm reception.
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