Austin is really pulling through with the northern based sushi shops. Lucky for us downtowners, Soto just opened a second location down on South Lamar in the Lamar Union Complex next to Shack Shack, Lick and Highball. While I recently raved about Tomodachi for their impressive rolls with thick cut fish that is the freshest I’ve found in Austin, Soto has it’s own fresh game with a different style menu. You order by the piece which is divided into sashimi or nigiri, there are 7 rolls (no maki) which include fancy ingredients from Torched Toro, Truffle, Wagyu Beef, Foie Gras and Bluefin Tuna. You can even get away with an 18 piece Omakase evening for $150 pp. In addition, there is a whole side for cooked items like a classic Miso Black Cod and Uni Pasta, but we stuck with raw fish only which was filling enough.
The restaurant atmosphere actually has nice lighting, but isn’t anything to visit because of the vibe or decor which made me feel like I was getting into just the right sushi spot I was looking for. However, sit at the sushi counter where all the magic happens and you’ll be in for a treat. Here is a lineup of sashimi and sushi pieces to attack on your visit:
- Start with the Salmon Over Fire ($14) with raspberry chili sauce, edible flowers and shallots. This flamer is a fun way to kick off dinner and pays a nod to our smokey, BBQ city. The salmon is smokey, yet cold and tender at the same time.
- Seared Sake Toro Salmon Belly, Ikura, Momoji Oroshi, Shiso ($5/ piece). Most people don’t know that you can get salmon titled “toro” which really just means the fatty part of the belly. I’ve only had salmon toro one other time, and let’s just say this was definitely the best piece of salmon sushi I’ve ever had.
- Chu Toro Sashimi ($18 for 2 piece)– This was probably my favorite piece because toro tuna is always my favorite when it is fatty, not tough, and melts in your mouth more than an ice cube can. Make sure to get this sashimi style so that the rice does not distract any moment. It’s dressed with shoyu garlic onions, and micro greens.
- O Toro Nigiri ($12/piece)– Another great piece of tuna and ideal over rice.
- Hotate Scallop $5 nigiri) – I love, love, love scallops, but I prefer them cooked. I tried this one over rice which is dressed with honey vinaigrette, yuzu zest, yuzu tobiko.
- White Tiger Maki Roll with Bluefin Tuna, Avocado, Cucumber, Tobiko, Yuki Konbu, Lemon Aioli ($14) – This roll is so delicate and covered in some kind of green paper. There is still rice inside (no fear!) but it doesn’t overpower the flavorful fish. The one thing I’d recommend is asking for the lemon aioli on the side as I didn’t think it needed it at all and would’ve preferred to just use soy sauce or nothing at all.
Overall, Soto is a memorable addition to the downtown sushi scene and a place I will always be excited to venture to. If you are looking for plain/undressed pieces or amature California maki rolls though, this is not the ideal spot for you. Soto is for those that want a “trust the chef” guided, flavorful experience with some of the freshest fish in town.