Downtown Austin Japanese food hall vendor, Ni-Kome, is now closed permanently in Fareground on 111 Congress Avenue, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a very difficult decision to make,” wrote co-owner Kayo Asazu in an email, “but due to COVID-related circumstances, we feel it is the best to close this project for now.”
The stall had served a combination menu from Ni-Kome’s sibling restaurants: sushi from Kome and chicken broth-based ramen from the now-closed Daruma. She noted that sushi and ramen is still available at Kome, which is only open for takeout service.
This isn’t Asazu and co-owner Takehiro Asazu’s first pandemic-related restaurant shutter. The pair closed their downtown Austin ramen restaurant Daruma this past June. They couldn’t foresee a safe way to reopen in a safe way, but they want to eventually reopen the noodle soup shop somewhere in a new location at some point.
Fareground, operated by Austin restaurant group ELM, had announced it was temporarily closing in March (along with most businesses in the city) to mitigate the novel coronavirus pandemic. Ni-Kome, one of the original vendors, is the first and only vendor so far to announce that it isn’t reopening.
Israeli street food stand TLV has reopened in Fareground as of early June, though it’s only open for to-go orders through curbside pickups and third-party deliveries. While fast-casual Henbit’s location is closed to the public, it is shipping out its famous monster cookies nationally, which are being prepped at the food hall.
Still temporarily closed are the satellite location of Contigo, Dai Due’s taco-focused location, and ELM’s Italian restaurant Italic (the original location on West Sixth is also temporarily closed), and both bars, including the street-level Ellis.
There have been plenty of switcheroos through the food hall’s existence, since it opened in January 2018. It had originally debuted with ancillary locations of cheese shop Antonelli’s and bakery Easy Tiger (which had originated at ELM, but had broken away a month later that same year).
The Asazus ran food truck Sushi-A-Go-Go before opening Kome in 2011. They followed that with Daruma in 2013. Kayo Asazu opened Japanese-inspired Sa-Ten in 2015 with East Side King’s Moto Utsunomiya. Then, the Asazus opened a casual hand roll and omakase restaurant, Uroko, in 2019.
- All Coverage of Fareground [EATX]