The Hidden Sushi Gem – Soto South Lamar
With giants like Uckiko and Uchi dominating to sushi scene in Austin, it’s hard to notice other great sushi spots in Austin. Especially, when Soto is located just blocks from Uchi on South Lamar. This is why you should check out Soto next time your craving the perfect bite of sushi.
Recently, Soto was nominated for the Best Sushi Spot in Austin by the Austin American Statesman, in competition with both Uchi and Uchiko. While the polls have not been counted and posted yet, Soto definitely provides some stiff competition, so it will be interesting to see the results come November 11th, 2020.
Soto’s Head Chef and owner Andy Chen follows traditional Japanese techniques and applies contemporary twists to create breathtaking dishes. However, Chef Andy is different than your typical restaurant owner. Chef Andy Chen spends every evening on the sushi line at Soto, guaranteeing the quality of the sushi is always on point. He even curated this masterpiece, Salmon over Fire. Large pieces of Scottish Salmon, decorated with edible flowers, ponzu and micro green, are draped over a piece of lemongrass. Underneath is a coffee infused flame, so you can kiss your sashimi in the scented flame before dipping it in raspberry chili sauce to finish.
Soto also has an extensive selection of seasonal Sake ranging from fruity, to floral, to dry and in all price ranges. There are also multiple Japanese beers on tap, and a varietal of wines. However, something that sets Soto apart from Uchi and Uchiko, is that they also have a full bar, complete with delicious craft cocktails. I would definitely recommend the Earth + Honey cocktail for my Mezcal lovers out there. This cocktail is perfectly balanced, with smoky mezcal, sweet honeysuckle, and sour yuzu citrus. It is finished with an egg white foam which melds the flavors together with each sip, to make a perfectly refreshing drink to enjoy in the patio.
Soto takes the cake for best sushi happy hour. They have an extensive list of fun bites to enjoy at a discount. Austin loves tacos, and with tacos as a local staple, it only makes sense to make sushi tacos! Soto managed a fun twist on a hard-shell taco by creating a crispy nori shell, and filling it with sushi rice, spicy tuna, and avocado ($8). However, my favorite happy hour bite was the Madai Crudo ($8). This mild-flavored white fish is paired with orange, citrus ponzu, shiso (a varietal of Japanese mint) and micro greens. If you are coming in for happy hour, which I recommend, both these dishes are an economical must-try.
Lastly, to finish out the experience of Soto try one of their Japanese whiskeys. Either a 1 or 2 oz pour served neat or on the rocks. Soto has whiskeys ranging from the well-known Kikori, to the well-respected Whistle Pig “Boss Hog”. This is the perfect way to round out a delicious meal.
Overall, my experience at Soto has left me questioning the hype of Uchi and Uchiko. The food is exceptional, the prices are competitive of not lower, and they have a larger bar selection. Don’t know what to order? Get the Omakase! Omakase means “I leave it up to you” so you will receive a chef curated selection of menu items to give you a well-rounded experience of everything Soto has to offer. My recommendation next time you have sushi on you mind is to give this hidden gem a try!