Friday, September 25, 2009

Yanagi Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar

A friend of mine who is a HUGE sushi freak turned me onto Yagani, open since June in the strip center where Gold's Gym is at Wm. Cannon & Mopac. (I think this may be the same location that housed Noodleism a few years back.) My friend loves this chef, and says he's the best Japanese chef in town... can't remember where she said he used to cook. She's decidedly a food person, and I trust her food input, though raw fish is not my first love.

Anyway, made a 1:30 lunch date today with another friend, who ended up having to cancel because of a sick kid. Decided to go anyway, and see what's what. Fortunately, when you walk in the doors, you forget you're in a strip mall. The pleasant interior could transport you away from the sweaty gym neighbors next door. Dark wood, minimal decor, not too large. At least for a late lunch with only a few tables seated, it seems to work. Except for the Top 40 music playing. Oh well.

A very perky hostess greeted me as I opened the door, and escorted me to a table, leaving a menu and a list of bento box lunch specials. I had a 15% off coupon for the bento lunches; and settled on the tonkatsu box. The waiter took a few minutes to appear, as he was serving meals, but I could see that the food coming out looked good and in large portions. I ordered, and he scurried off. Moments later, he brought my water, and a bowl of miso soup. I don't think the menu listed the soup as one of the accompaniments with the bento meal, but I love miso! While waiting for my bento, I glanced a bit at a magazine, and around the room to really get a feel for it. Looks like the place seats about 80+, room at the sushi bar for 6 - 8 bodies, and a separate bar area by the entrance. Unfortunately I found out before leaving that the ladies room smelled overwhelmingly of room deodorizer.

The bento box arrived, and it was gorgeous! A TON of food. Look at the picture, starting in the top right, we have the pork tonkatsu itself, rice, California rolls, salad, vegetable tempura, tonkatsu sauce (and underneath it I discovered fresh ginger slices), and the top plate with a generous amount of wasabi & pickled ginger. The pork was fabulous, and extremely thin cut/pounded, like the pork isn't much more than 1/4 inch thick. Great panko breading, nicely fried. The sauce with it, I wasn't in love with. It took me quite a while to place the flavor, but it's really raisiny. Not enough contrast in it. The tempura was fabulous too; I was given onion, sweet potato, and a white starchy thing not unlike a potato, but I am not sure that it was....taro, maybe. The batter stuck nicely to the veggies, perfectly fried ( I do wonder what kind of oil they use...). The dressing on the salad has potential, but this didn't have enough ginger in it for my tastes; iceberg lettuce, cuke, & cherry tomatoes were all fresh though. The CA rolls are okay, but nothing special; nice to have pickled ginger that isn't pink, meaning no food dye.

Looking at their menu, they have a lot of rolls, many with interesting names (the Wm. Cannon, the Mopac, the Sexy). They sound good, but I didn't see any go past while I was there. I did see one tray of sushi, which from the distance, looked lovely. Would certainly be fun to go back and check out the other items; they've also got a few Korean items on the menu. I've got a few more of the 15% off lunch coupons, so if you want one, let me know!

I can't find a website for them, and on their takeout menu, there isn't one listed.


  1. Stumbled upon your blog while looking for the Yanagi website ( which is basically just a stub at present). I really like the Yanagi specialty rolls. I am so excited to find your blog because my office lunch group is always looking for other places to try and your blog provides much "food for though" for us. Thanks! :)

  2. Tracy --

    Thanks for the post! Good to know about the specialty rolls at Yanagi; I will have to try those!


    -- Suzanna, aka South Austin Foodie

  3. Try the Spicy Tuna Tataki roll. It's amazing if you like spicy tuna. It's my favorite roll in Austin, and believe me, I've tried them all.