Beaming with an energetic atmosphere and pulsating doorframes, Kenichi, awarded Best of Citysearch 2010, offers a modern dining experience where eating enthusiasts can comfortably gobble classic sushi and contemporary Asian cuisine. Keep taste buds on the tip of your tongue with a menu filled with tantalizing treats such as the smoked salmon roll ($8), the Kobe beef roll ($13), or the Austin-style sashimi, made with yellowtail, cilantro, serrano pepper, and basil vinaigrette ($16). Though this Groupon cannot be used toward alcohol, consider providing the sushi with a tour guide of sake to ensure a safe journey to the stomach.
The executive chef at Imperia emblazons an Asian menu full of fresh seafood and ingredients with a personal flair that has amassed seven Austin Chronicle reader accolades. Inside the stylish urban restaurant, pendant lights illuminate a marble bar winding past Asian decor, and cool slabs of bluefin sashimi stretch out on platters in the arms of attentive servers. Candles flicker across tables, as guests enjoy three-course omakase meals creatively orchestrated and handcrafted by the chef and catapulted directly into awaiting mouths.
Though its name suggests otherwise, the Forget About It roll’s unorthodox ingredients make it pretty memorable: the flavorful crunch of shrimp tempura is wrapped up with crawfish and accented by ginger cream. It's just one of the many unique combinations dreamed up by Piranha Killer Sushi's owner and chef, Kenzo Tran. Non-traditional sushi fixings are Kenzo’s specialty, from the White Lotus roll’s pico de gallo and truffle oil sauce to the Bullet roll’s cilantro chili purée and edible police officer’s badge.
That blend of the classic and unconventional runs throughout Piranha Killer Sushi's menu. Besides distinctive rolls, the kitchen serves up dishes such as Korean beef in ginger marinade, salads with octopus and spicy conch, and blue crab fried rice. Ditto the drink menu, featuring specialty libations such as the saketini, a blend of vodka, gin, and sake with a cucumber garnish. The restaurant's whimsical take on Japanese fare hasn't gone unnoticed—media outlets laud it for its tasty creations and inviting decor.
HDYR's make-your-own-maki menu succeeds where make-your-own-pharmaceuticals failed by giving you options for putting your own spin on seaweed-wrapped rice wheels of fish (or vegetable, chicken, or beef) goodness. Start by selecting either a traditional (seaweed, $3.95) or modern (soy, $4.95) casing, then match it with a meat (11 options; $1.95 for beef, $2.50 for unagi, $2.95 for regular or spicy tuna). Next, add vegetables (12 options; pick up to three, additional are 50 cents each) and specialty toppings (seven options, including crunchy tempura, sesame seeds, and chili powder). You can also order sidekicks, such as seaweed, cucumber, or calamari salads ($1.50–$2.50), edamame ($0.99), miso soup ($0.99), or pre-concocted rolls such as the California ($5.95), Philadelphia ($6.95), or unagi ($6.95).
A red horseshoe-shaped bar dominates the dining room at Roll On Sushi Diner, encouraging patrons to grab a stool and watch the chefs as they sculpt maki with inventive ingredients that are reminiscent of an American diner. The menu's Austin-inspired rolls deviate from Japanese traditions, featuring unconventional fillings such as beef brisket, chicken-fried steak, or candied walnuts inside a cylinder of rice and nori instead. As co-owner Chip Reed told Austin Monthly in 2011, "no one has ever told us, ‘you’re not supposed to do that’… so we have no limitations on what we can create." He and his cohort, Chad Reed, helm a staff of servers who place each roll on a color-coded plate that corresponds to its price. This allows diners and servers alike to quickly tally the final bill without hiring a CPA for the afternoon.
With an eclectic eye developed over years of national competition, Chef Choo of Afin Modern Japanese Tapas weaves a rich tapestry of Japanese fare with contemporary flair. Staples such as the velvety anago, grilled whole with honey, fresh ginger, and an onion salsa ($19), appear on the entrée menu alongside miso gravlax ($20), a Scottish salmon marinated in miso and sake for 24 hours, the exact time it takes to travel from Scotland to Japan by snowshoe. The sushi menu features intricately constructed à la carte nigiri including the zesty pistachio'd salmon belly ($3.50) and dozens of tightly-wound rolls ($5.50–$16) such as the special Kryptonite roll ($15), which snuggles three types of tuna with avocado, shrimp, and wasabi tobiko.