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.
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with a welcome cocktail that you can enjoy in the dining room of Bento Picnic while you wait to be ushered into the dining room. Once inside, search for your spot and prepare for elementary school flashbacks when you find your name labeled in chalk on a tiny piece of slate.
The focus here is on “new-wave” nigiri, meaning you can expect to find pieces of sushi topped with things like shaved truffles, dehydrated herbs, foams, and fermented powders that can, at times, be a bit over-present. The bites are fun and inventive, but you may find the flavors of chu toro, lavender honey garlic, charred jalapeno yuzu kosho, blackberry salt, and mushroom tamari (in a single bite) in competition for your tastebuds’ attention. Despite that, a dinner here feels like a special occasion, and every bite seems to get better than the last, even if we’re not always sure what we’re tasting.