Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kemuri Tatsu-ya

I now know what all the fuss is about. In less than six months, Kemuri Tatsu-ya has landed on the Best of Austin lists for both the Austin American Statesman and the Austin Chronicle. And now I totally see why. I was there for dinner about two weeks ago, and it was by far the best meal I have had in a very long time.
Kemuri Tatsuya logo
Texas meets Japan is the theme of Kemuri, which opened on East 2nd and Pleasant Valley Streets back in January. It's pedigree? From the owners of Ramen Tatsu-ya, probably my favorite ramen spot in town. The place is an izakaya, or Japanese style gastropub; lots of sake, sochu, and funky cocktails to help wash down your small plates of food (good for sharing).
Kemuri Austin
Kemuri decor
Kemuri Chinmi funky menu
I've eaten natto in Japan, and it certainly has that funk factor to it! We didn't order anything from this menu on this visit.

Kemuri Tatsuya Hot Pocketz
Crispy Hot Pocketz with smoky brisket and gouda; each one is small, like a deck of cards and you feel like you could eat a bunch of these.
Kemuri dank tofu
Called Dank Tofu, this was the most wonderful thing! Blue cheese is infused in the tofu, and it's served in a soy glaze with shiitake mushrooms and pecans. So much amazing flavor and bursting with umami mouthfuls! I am SO in love.

Kemuri chicken karaage
Chicken Karaage with kewpie mayo

Kemuri yakitori
Pork belly and scallop yakitori... these both could have been cooked just a touch more.
Kemuri soft shell crab bao
Soft shell crab bao, from the evening's specials menu, with cilantro chimichurri. Great contrast of textures from the lightly crispy crab to the softness of the bao. Totally delicious.

Kemuri onigiri
Onigiri, or rice balls, are a dime a dozen in Japan. Every convenience store sells them. This was the most interesting and flavorful onigiri I have ever had. Filled with salmon, the rice ball (triangle, really) is lightly fried (?) with what I think is a soy glaze. Super crisp on the exterior, and nice an soft on the interior. 
Kemuri Tokyo Street Corn
Tokyo Street Corn... a bit messy to eat!
Kemuri Heirloom Tomato Salad
Also one of the evening specials, an heirloom tomato salad with watermelon, cucumbers, queso fresco and yuzu honey dressing.
Kemuri unagi
The barbecue unagi (eel), also amazing!

Apart from the yakitori skewers which were a touch underdone, my only other issue was that the small water glasses went unfilled for longer periods of time, and the reason I noticed it is because I wasn't drinking anything else. But the food was amazing, the atmosphere was fun, and I can't wait to go back to Kemuri! If you only eat chicken teriyaki when you go to a Japanese restaurant this may not be your cup of matcha tea, but if you're open to exploring some new dishes and even some familiar ones just prepared differently, head over to Kemuri.

Update  9/2017
I went for a second visit last month and had the chicken thigh yakitori as well as the smoked banana pudding for dessert.
Kemuri chicken thigh yakitori
I could eat about ten of these chicken thigh yakitori, the meat was incredibly juicy. The beef tongue on the left wasn't bad either, but the thighs were killer.
Kemuri Smoked Banana Pudding
Smoked banana pudding with miso caramel