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. Ordering an omakase (chef’s choice) menu at places in Austin has long been an option at many sushi restaurants, 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 BTS 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. That’s why we decided to eat them all. These 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 an Hermès plate 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: $99 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 chef’s preparing your meal in a room that’s basically a tunnel of lights 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 veggies and nigiri—but there’s also a weekly mostly-sushi night and a once-a-month smaller (and cheaper) menu. 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. Sake, wine, cocktail, and tea pairings 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.
Toshokan is a small, eight-seat omakase spot behind a bookshelf in the back of a hostel 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 alumni—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: $125 per person, with optional add-ons. Sake pairing available.
Sushi|Bar is located in a small, semi-secret room with 10 seats at the back of Bento Picnic in East Austin. It started as a pop-up, before the founders left and created a new concept (Sushi By Scratch), Now, Sushi|Bar exists as its own restaurant with different chefs, but an overall similar experience that’s clearly been shaped by its older, estranged sibling. The focus here is “new-wave” nigiri. Toppings like shaved truffles, dehydrated herbs, foams, and fermented powders can, at times, be a bit over-present, and the sound of a blowtorch hitting nigiri starts to become white noise. Despite all of that, you can expect about 17-20 bites, all of which are very tasty, over the course of your meal.
Cost: $145 per person, with optional add-ons. Sake pairing available.
Dining at Hush feels a little like eating at your really talented chef friend’s apartment—no frills attached. Part of that feeling probably stems from the fact that you’re actually eating in the community center of an apartment complex near Pleasant Valley and Lakeshore Blvd. Unlike some of the other spots on this guide, a dinner here is only about half sushi. The rest is a series of small, composed plates that would give any restaurant in town a run for their money. The nigiri, in comparison, occupies a world somewhere between the new school and old school styles, but doesn’t really seem to know its place just yet. Just make sure to call in to work for a late start the next day—a meal here can run pretty long (3+ hours), and the price tag comes with a complimentary (and heavy) sake pairing.
Cost: $200 per person (includes sake pairing).
Sure, Uroko offers hand rolls by day so it’s not only omakase. But once the sun goes down on weekends, that little sushi bar serves a series of fast-paced omakase dinners. The omakase 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. Uroko was started by some of the folks behind Komé—a place 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 generally minimalist, no-frills approach to nigiri. It also happens to be the cheapest omakase in town. Don’t come here to celebrate that big promotion, just come here for good quality sushi that you don’t have to plan months ahead to get.
Cost: $78 per person, with optional add-ons. Sake pairing available.