The Best Sushi Omakase-Only Restaurants In Austin
photo credit: Richard Casteel
If you’re looking to blow through a ton of money in a short period of time, well, first let us tell you about a great multi-level investment opportunity. Next, let us tell you about Austin’s recent boom in high-end omakase meals. Austin has a lot of great sushi restaurants, and ordering an omakase (chef’s choice) menu has long been an option at many of them. But recently there’s been a massive influx of highly-exclusive and semi-secret spots offering omakase-only menus. Reservations at many of these spots are difficult to get, and tend to get scooped up faster than tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. Expect to spend anywhere from $100-$300 per person at each of these spots on the base menu. Most offer additional bites at the end (generally ranging from about $20-80 if you try them all) plus whatever drink pairing or bottle of sake you decide to go with. It can add up quickly. Here are all the omakase-only spots in Austin, ranked.
Reservations at all of Austin’s omakase spots right now are tough to come across. But none, perhaps, are as tough to get as Tsuke Edomae, a tiny sushi bar in Mueller that gets booked out months in advance. It’s a bare-bones space, with a small, minimalist sushi counter with eight seats, each with a slate and an Hermès bowl that costs more than your entire meal. Expect a few small plates, plus 8-10 pieces of classic Edomae-style sushi, in which the fish goes through an aging process to further develop umami flavors. This is nigiri in its simplest form—dressed in nothing but soy sauce and wasabi—and sets the gold standard in Austin for sushi purists.
Cost: $135 per person, with optional add-ons. Sake pairing available.
Otoko is often considered one of the swankiest restaurants in Austin, with a price tag that shows they’re clearly aware. It’s a place to dress up a little and feel like a rock star, as you watch the chefs prepare your meal in a room that’s basically a tunnel of light to a soundtrack of Bowie, Sun Ra, and Fugazi, with a chef that looks like he could have just hopped off any of their stages. There are three menus here that change based on what day you show up (and pre-book). Most days it’s a kaiseki menu—a mix of seasonal vegetables and nigiri—but there’s also a weekly mostly sushi night, and a shorter, slightly cheaper menu on Tuesdays and the first Thursday of the month. This is a place we would reserve for special occasions—anniversaries, promotions, and birthdays—but a meal here will turn even the blandest of weekdays into a special occasion of its own.
Cost: $250-$295 per person. $150 shortened menu available on Tuesdays and the first Thursday of the month. Sake, wine, shochu pairings available.
Toshokan is a small, six-seat omakase behind a secret bookshelf at a private club in East Austin. First, take a second to unpack that sentence. Second, set your timer for the first of the month, because that’s when tickets to these dinners go live, and to say they go fast is an understatement. Dinner is about 14 courses, and it very much falls in the realm of new-school nigiri—the chef is a Sushi Bar alum—but what sets Toshokan apart from some of the others is that they never forget that the fish is ultimately the star of the show. Well, that and the fact that the tiny dining room feels like you’re eating in Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, if it had been decorated with a live edge sushi bar and cute Japanese toys on the walls.
Cost: $150 per person, with optional add-ons. Sake pairing available.
This is where things start to get confusing. The folks that originally founded Sushi Bar in Austin sold the name and started a new concept out in the middle of nowhere (OK, it’s at the Lost Pines Resort close to Bastrop), in a hotel that feels a little like a haunted old Hill Country estate. It’s an odd backdrop for an omakase, but if anything it speaks to the more elusive, speakeasy nature of the 16-18 course dinner here. While you can expect a few pieces of classic sushi, you’ll also find a lot of bites like torched whelk nigiri topped with beet mustard, lemon juice, and quinoa. It’s not traditional at all, but it’s not really trying to be. If you want the original pioneers in “new-wave nigiri” (their words), this is where you’ll want to head.
Cost: $165 per person, with optional add-ons. Sake pairing and general beverage pairing (a mix of sake, beer, wine, and cocktails) available.
Austin has no shortage of omakases—some that we like more than others—and you can probably guess where this sleek Rosedale omakase spot falls based on making this list. The meal consists of 20ish courses, in which you’ll experience bright crudos, cooked plates, and dry-aged fish over rice. The nigiri is good—with high-quality fish, and rice that we wish was a tad warmer—but the stars of the show are the small, non-sushi plates. That’s where unique textures and flavors get a chance to play with each other, like in a vibrant shrimp aguachile or stewed winter vegetables in a rich, savory broth. And while other omakases like to throw on a tacky upsell at the end that feels like a pricey risk, here you know exactly what you’re paying for. And when you’re spending ~$200, it’s nice to know.
Cost: $175 per person, no add-ons available. Sake and wine pairings available.
For a while, Uroko in Springdale General in East Austin had a secret identity situation going on. By day it was a casual handroll spot, and at night it operated as an intimate omakase experience. Eventually, the owners took over the space next door and opened Tonari—an omakase-only sushi spot that never has to wear a disguise. Dinner here consists of 12 bites of nigiri served over 45 minutes, meaning you can snag one of the “1 hour limit” parking spots at the front of Springdale General and be out with time to spare. Tonari was started by some of the folks behind the sushi spot Kome—which we like very much—and as a result, a dinner here feels a lot like a quick, chef-curated meal at its older sibling. That means generous portions of fresh fish, and a minimalist, no-frills approach to nigiri. It also happens to be one of the most affordable omakase spots in town. Don’t come here to celebrate that big promotion or to finally propose to your partner of 15 years, just come here for good quality sushi that you don’t have to plan months in advance to eat
Cost: $84 per person. Sake flights available.