A locally owned and operated chain restaurant, Zen whips up fresh Japanese grub and Southwest-influenced fusion eats. Drop by to kick back amid the welcoming, ultra-modern vibes and percolate palates with tasty and new menu items, which include the likes of customizable rice or noodle bowls, fresh sushi, tuna nachos, and more. Unlike foot-long hot dogs or a bucket of biscuit gravy, sushi or chicken options, such as Redneck Sushi ($7.95) or Chuck Norris Chicken ($3.50), divides tasty culinary concoctions into tidbits so that the palate can better savor the tastetations. With today’s Groupon to Zen Japanese Food Fast, patrons can tickle the taste buds without tasting pterodactyl feathers or licking batteries.
The chefs at Izumi Sushi & Grill Restaurant craft hot and uncooked entrees with the goal of introducing new diners to the comforting flavors of traditional Japanese cuisine. Papery lanterns create a warm, intimate atmosphere as they cast golden light on panko-breaded pork or red-snapper katsu and bowls of stir-fried yakisoba noodles tangled around vegetables and chicken. A wooden fish hangs from the wall behind the sushi bar as chefs assemble elaborate rolls including the Firecracker, a crunchy combination of crabmeat and shrimp tempura topped with spicy tuna and house sauce. The decor adds to the peaceful experience, with blossoming cherry trees painted on the walls, a rustic wooden booth and sushi bar, and plates made out of old Pure Moods CDs.
In 2008, brothers Yuen and Peter Yung opened the first How Do You Roll? restaurant, devoting it to inventive, customizable sushi. Since then, the eatery has expanded to multiple locations across four states—and in February of 2013, after they pitched their concept to the notorious panel on ABC's "Shark Tank," an investor decided to sink his teeth into helping the business grow even further. The shark-worthy idea? Chefs invite customers to build their own sushi rolls or bowls, beginning with white or brown rice, which can then be topped or rolled with ingredients such as raw spicy salmon, grilled chicken, avocado, and strawberries. Sauces such as wasabi mayo and toppings such as chili powder finish off each roll.
Other favorites at How Do You Roll? come in the form of preset combinations such as the Mango Tango, whose krab stick, salmon, vegetables, and mango salsa are assembled by a chef holding a rose in his teeth. The menu also caters to healthy-minded diners with low-carb bowls, gluten-free options, and 13 rolls that contain fewer than 300 calories apiece.
CRAVE's eight locations have gained a plethora of press and even an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. Each sleek eatery also entices diners with a diverse menu of modern American lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch fare devised by Corporate Executive Chef Bill King and a sushi menu of traditional and creative rolls. Each menu is then artfully executed using fresh and locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, as well as seafood flown in daily and handcrafted sauces made from authentic Asian recipes. Deck ovens give flatbreads and pizzas a crisp exterior while the grill keeps steaks, chicken, and burgers juicy.
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.
During his travels abroad Michael Pearson fell in love with the popular street food okonomiyaki, a savory, pizza-like Japanese pancake. Eager to bring the delicacy stateside, Michael opened Yoko Ono Miyaki!, where he adds a Texas-style twist to okonomiyaki by topping his pancakes with ingredients such as pork belly, sesame-garlic tempeh, boudin, and oven-roasted brisket. Behind his walk-up window, Michael also whips up other Japanese treats to accompany his okonomiyaki, including miso soup, edamame, and banana milk from freshly milked bananas.