Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn paid a visit to Kemuri Tatsu-ya, and had only praise for the Holly restaurant. He explored how co-owner Tatsu Aikawa’s restaurant (recently named one of Eater National’s best new restaurants of the country) paralleled his own journey from Japan to Elgin, one of the great barbecue cities in Texas, without losing the authenticity of either place.
Though famous for Ramen Tatsu-ya, Aikawa and co-owner/chef Takuya Matsumoto, wanted to tell a bigger story with their new restaurant, deciding on the style of izakaya, a Japanese gastropub, with heavy influence from the smoker of the space’s predecessor, Live Oak Barbecue. In a city where Vaughn admits that excellent barbecue is plentiful, he touts the restaurant as a new inspiration of immigrant influence on the art of smoked meat:
If you’re still not convinced, one bite of the hamachi kama, or yellowtail collar, should do the trick. The prized cut just below the gills is cold-smoked, then hot-smoked, then grilled over Japanese binchotan charcoal. Unimaginably rich, it’s the sea’s answer to fatty brisket.
Also on the east side, the Chronicle’s Brandon Watson took a trip to low-key Kinda Tropical, which he claims could use some more palm trees. Decor aside, Watson declared the menu spot-on:
The food, however, relishes in the power of suggestion – loosely unified by the idea of eternal summer. There are a few pan-tropical (God, please let that never become a thing) elements on the menu, but mostly it just offers food that goes well with hot weather, whatever the origin.
He particularly enjoyed the “juicy” jerk chicken and rainbow rice bowl with an addictive lemon vinaigrette.