Living in Switzerland, I rarely ate Sushi – my favorite meal. My husband’s deep aversion to sushi played a small part; we’d have to find a restaurant with plenty of “algae-free” options. However, the main reason that I only ate sushi three times in the entire time I lived there, was the price. I recall two separate trips to the Sushi Train, where sure, I paid enough to feel a lump coagulate in my throat, however the sushi were fresh, the rolls were large, and one needs a little decadence from time to time.
One does not need a sushi meal from the new, fancy-schmancy Japanese restaurant that leaves everyone hungry at the end, and includes a total bill of 400 CHF (for 4 people). That experience being a mere four months before our eventual move to the United States, I decided to swallow my sushi cravings until we arrived in the land of plenty…and cheaper.
This past Friday night, I could go no longer without chopsticks in my hand and wasabi tickling my nose. Jon, having been treated to burgers three times in the first week we lived here, agreed, it was time I had my sushi!
We live a little north of UT, and we set out with very hungry appetites for Seoul Restaurant, otherwise known as DK Sushi, on south 1st St. Not having packed a banana, or some form of sustenance for the trip is indicative of our newbie status to Austin: I had no idea how long 1st Street is!
While driving, I realized something invaluable: Watching the blue dot move on your iphone is akin to watching a pot of water boil.
Finally, a half hour later, we unleashed our roaring appetites on the menu. Jonathan started with Yakimondo (Korean meat and vegetable dumplings), which were fried to perfection and piping hot. I ordered Edamame. In the past few months a lurking feeling has risen slowly to the surface: I’m not sure I like Edamame anymore. This has nothing to do with Seoul’s version, though it did lack for salt. Rather, I believe the novelty of the dish has worn off.
When I first ordered Edamame, I found it so cool. So other than anything I’d ever eaten. So soy. As in “Look at me, I eat soybeans.” (Yes, I grew up in a small town in Indiana.) I would like to believe that the first time I ordered them, while dining alone and with no one to instruct me, the waitress forgot to bring me a receptacle for the pods. I would like to believe that the absence of a dish (most likely it was stacked underneath) was the reason that I ate the entire pod. Yes, I found it crunchy, but not inedible, and actually, rather good. However, I’d like to know why the boy who watched me eat them the second time did not inform me about said receptacle dish, stacked underneath, and let me go on eating the entire pod. Perhaps he too was ignorant, or just spiteful. Either way, the third time that I ordered Edamame, at a work dinner for our entire project team, was – needless to say – rather embarrassing.
And now, Edamame just seems like an unnecessary step: I’d rather leave the room for more sushi.
Even after filling up on soy beans, I managed to put away some sushi. I ordered three rolls in total.
The “Spicy Octopus” roll was, yes, spicy, which in my opinion, was a detriment to the octopus. I did not enjoy this roll. The “Mexican Orgasm” confounded me. What part of Broiled Eel, Avacado and Sweet Sauce is Mexican, or Orgasmic? Perhaps it once was orgasmic, but since it can be found on absolutely every sushi menu I’ve ever seen, it’s just a standby favorite. A very yummy standby favorite that has absolutely no reference to Mexico. This version was good, but I wish restaurants would leave off the funky names and just number the rolls instead. Finally, I ordered the 69′er, which is a California Roll with “Salmon, Masago, Green Onion and a Spicy Sauce.” I was imagining the four items to be layered on separately. In fact, they are mixed together, then dolloped on in one conglomerate mass. I should rephrase that, however. This was no dollop:
This jumpsuit-orange business they added was extremely spicy, which was fun, for about two pieces, then its novelty wore off as well, and I wiped the rest off onto the plate. I was disappointed in this roll, but that may be because I was anticipating raw salmon, which there was, but the taste of it was completely hidden by the sauce.
As for my husband, he ordered Shrip Tempura, which was hot, giant and beautiful. If there is one thing you go to Seoul for, it should be the Tempura sauce. Judy, our sweet and swift server, informed us that it was the best Tempura sauce in Austin. I thought she was paid to say that, but in fact, it was delicious. Apparently the sauce is not soy-based, like most. The Seoul version is obviously ginger based, and the effect is awesome, but the recipe is apparently secretly guarded by the family, even from sweet Judy.
On a last note, Seoul offers regular tables, booths and the more traditional style of eating on the floor. I’ve never been to Japan, however I believe the Japanese sit on a mat on the floor, in various seated positions (some are set by gender). Seoul has done Americans a favor, and built floor seating, where your feet can actually dangle into a large hole below the table. There is also a small seating area with a few stools in front of the sushi bar, where you can watch the pair of masters at work.
Beyond what I have described, the menu is diverse, offering many Korean as well as Japanese dishes, and many Tempura style Sushi Rolls.
Our total bill (before tip), which included two appetizers, one main dish, three sushi rolls, one nigiri and one glass of Australian Shiraz, was 56 USD. And on that note, Sushi and I are reunited.