Once again, the Austin dining scene has been recognized by a national authority. Kemuri Tatsu-Ya lands on this year's list of Best New Restaurants from GQ. The story, which appears in the magazine's May issue, takes a closer look at the nation's culinary scene through the lens of our current political climate.
"Our nation's dining — and, by extension, our national culture — is indivisible at every level from the lives and labor, sweat and striving, inspiration and creativity of immigrants and their children," says GQ correspondent Brett Martin.
"That's why this year's Best New Restaurants is dedicated to celebrating places owned or helmed by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Being born elsewhere, or of parents who were, and choosing to build their lives in the United States — those were the sole criteria (besides, of course, opening in the past 18 months or so and being wonderful)."
The short list of 10 includes Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, the new East Austin joint from the Ramen Tatsu-Ya team. It debuted in January 2017. Kemuri is a Texas take on an izakaya, a traditional Japanese pub, inspired by chef Tatsu Aikawa’s experience as a Japanese native growing up in the Lone Star State.
In addition to the food, Martin highlights the uniqueness of the McCray & Co.-designed space. The building's previous tenants, Live Oak Barbecue, left behind smoke-stained walls which are now covered in an eclectic mix of decorations from Texas and Japan.
"That immaculate zaniness is reflected equally in wild shochu-based Tiki drinks and in dishes like a tamale packed with sticky rice, beef tongue, and shiitakes and a riff on Frito pie made with creamy octopus takoyaki topped with chili, cheese, and smoked jalapeño — a patently stupid dish that my table ordered a second portion of the moment it was gone."
We heartily agree with the description of Kemuri Tatsu-Ya; the izakaya was also nominated for Best New Restaurant in our recent CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.