A different kind of fish taco

First open-faced-sushi concept unrolls in Austin with innovative fare

First open-faced-sushi concept unrolls in Austin with innovative fare

Bluefin tuna hand roll
The bluefin tuna hand roll is topped with grilled green onions. Photo courtesy of Couple in the Kitchen
Hand rolls
From salmon to king crab, pork belly, and oyster mushrooms, there's a hand roll for every taste. Courtesy of Couple in the Kitchen
Caviar and Pringles
Caviar and Pringles? Don't knock it till you've tried it — with a side of sake, of course! Courtesy of Couple in the Kitchen
Bluefin tuna hand roll
Hand rolls
Caviar and Pringles

If you don’t really think of Austin as a sushi town, we’ll let you off the hook this once. But the truth is the Capital City has become a discerning sushi spot, particularly in the past decade.

And while many locals might argue the big fish remains Uchi, the award-winning Japanese restaurant that opened in 2003 and essentially sparked a movement in Austin, there are plenty of other fish in the city’s sea of sushi eateries, including an unpretentious and unconventional new concept helmed by a former Uchi chef.

Introducing Texas Sushiko, Austin’s first sushi food truck serving omakase-quality open-faced hand rolls, which some locals might recognize as heavenly sushi tacos, and Japanese bites. The innovative food truck is now open at St. Elmo Yard, at 440 E. St. Elmo Rd., appropriately stationed outside the Texas Sake Company tasting room.

Texas Sushiko is the brainchild of executive chef Michael Carranza, whose background includes stints at Uchi, Musashino, and Minamoto, and pastry chef Danielle Martinez. Though the Texas Sushiko team is small, the chefs have more than two decades of experience in the restaurant business and high-end sushi world. As a Texas Sushiko release notes, “this food truck has more sushi talent per square foot than most major restaurants.”

The idea for Texas Sushiko blossomed two years ago, when Carranza and his culinary team started in-home omakase service Tare and, noting its popularity, wanted to create an accessible form of omakase sushi (aka a chef’s selection) that didn’t require a reservation months in advance.

Key to the Texas Sushiko concept is the open-faced sushi roll, an idea Carranza developed to lure his family members — who had long thought raw fish was unappealing — with a more approachable format: sushi in the shape of tacos.

Quirky and novel as this sushi style may be, it’s also gloriously appealing and likely a concept Austinites will totally roll with. Must-order Texas Sushiko menu items include the king crab hand roll, which is lightly poached in butter and topped with fresh truffles; the fatty bluefin tuna hand roll with seasonal ingredients; the sous vide and grilled pork belly hand roll with kimchi; and — brace yourself — Black River Russian Oscietra caviar served with sour-cream-and-onion Pringles.

Texas Sushiko is open Thursday 4-10 pm, Friday 3-10 pm, Saturday noon-10 pm, and Sunday noon-5 pm. Check out the food truck on Instagram for some sushi-noshing inspiration.