Photo by Annie Drabicky
Komé is one of two Japanese words for rice. For Takehiro and Kayo Asazu, it is more like a mission statement.
“In Japan, [people] eat rice every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” Manager Alex Inman said. “Takehiro and Kayo wanted [eating at their restaurant] to be something as common as rice. If you wanted to come here and eat lunch every day, you could.”
Takehiro and Kayo had spent years working in the Japanese and American food industries. The couple ran the catering company Deli Bento and the food trailer Sushi-A-Go-Go.
Takehiro previously worked at Uchi, a sushi restaurant on South Lamar Boulevard. He had studied art before becoming a chef.
“I studied painting [in college]. I wanted to do something creative, and I like making food, so we opened the restaurant,” he said.
The Asazus opened Komé Sushi Kitchen in 2011 with the goal of serving homestyle Japanese food.
Homestyle Japanese food is exactly what it sounds like—the kinds of meals families in Japan eat on a regular basis and the comfort food that they prepare for friends, Inman said.
There are many staples, including the rice bowls, udon and ramen noodle soups.
Some menu choices, such as the gyoza pan-fried dumplings, are family recipes and have been honed by years of preparation. Inman said the tonpeiyaki—grilled pork and cabbage wrapped in an egg omelette and topped with Japanese mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce—comes from Kayo’s mother.
For all of its popularity abroad, sushi is not a staple in the Japanese diet, Inman said. It is more of a special occasion food.
“Rolling sushi requires a lot of work and a lot of different ingredients,” Inman said. “It is not something someone would do at home.”
Komé serves a large variety of fresh sushi, from the traditional to the Americanized. The restaurant also serves its own creations, such as the Love for Sale (salmon, lettuce, mango, avocado, carrots, asparagus and sprouts with mango sauce).
The authenticity-minded menu features a few surprises influenced by the Asazus’ travels. The Komé Viché is the restaurant’s take on the South American fish dish ceviché. The sushi roll menu has a Texas Surf and Turf Roll made of tempura shrimp, beef, candied jalapeño, avocado and cilantro with Texas green sauce.
On Thursdays, Komé offers Tsukiji Nigiri and Tsukiji Carpaccio, samplers created from fish shipped in from the world-famous Tsukiji fish market.
Inman said he appreciated the amount of thought that goes into each dish.
“There is a great attention to detail,” he said.
“Takehiro’s knifework is amazing. If you order a salad and eat it right away, you will enjoy it, and it will taste good. But if you stop and look at the cuts that were made, you might see that Takehiro made a cut 1/16 of an inch all of the way around the cucumber so that it is not so crunchy for your bite.”
Choose your sushi
Komé Sushi Kitchen offers a large variety of original, popular and traditional sushi.
- Tekka-maki—tuna ($5)
- Negi-hama-maki—yellowtail with green onions ($7)
- Oshinko-maki—Japanese pickles ($4)
- Midnight Sun—deep-fried tempura roll of smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado, candied jalapeño, sunflower seed with tempura sauce ($10)
- Endo in N.Y.—sashimi spring roll of sea bass sashimi, salmon sashimi, tobiko, cucumber, carrots, cilantro with nuoc mam and Thai chili ($12)
- Super Star—tuna, shrimp, squid, daikon, cucumber, umé plum and tobiko ($10)
- Superfly Roll—BBQ eel, salmon skin, masago, yama-gobo, cucumber with go-go sauce, eel sauce and green onion ($7)
- Spooky Roll—spicy tuna, avocado with fresh salmon ($9)
Komé Sushi Kitchen, 4917 Airport Blvd., 712-5700, www.kome-austin.com
- Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–2 p.m., 5–10 p.m.
- Sat. noon–3 p.m., 5–10 p.m.
- Sun. closed