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Soto anyone?

t
topeater Mar 18, 2013 03:07 PM

Soto is pretty far for me, but the lunch menu looks like a real bargain. Anyone been there yet?

  1. dinaofdoom Dec 5, 2013 04:48 PM

    after numerous visits, had a bad experience tuesday. the updated lunch menu made it more challenging to order something to accommodate my allergy. the server was adamant the items were safe, and they totally weren't. not sure if it was a problem with waitstaff or chef. waiting to hear back from management on my feedback. really hoping i can continue to eat here and trust in them, because the food is great when it's not making me sick.

    3 Replies
    1. re: dinaofdoom
      dinaofdoom Dec 5, 2013 09:19 PM

      management responded immediately with an apology and explanation about how that particular server was no longer with them. they will do all they can to assist with allergies, sensitivities and preferences. definitely will be back.

      1. re: dinaofdoom
        r
        rajat Dec 5, 2013 10:04 PM

        I'm glad to hear it. Our experience at Soto over allergies has been very positive. My wife has two fairly serious food related allergies. The Soto waitstaff and kitchen has always been very helpful in helping us avoid any problems; helping us steer clear of dishes that she can't have, or making the dishes without the offending ingredient.

        1. re: rajat
          dinaofdoom Dec 11, 2013 05:57 PM

          yes, your server makes a huge difference in those situations. glad you had good experiences. like i said, i will definitely be back. the food is too good not to =)

    2. dinaofdoom Nov 5, 2013 07:21 AM

      went for dinner last night and it was great, although our waiter was lackluster. he mumbled a lot, made head-scratching statements (see below) and messed up the gluten free tamari request several times, which my friend thankfully caught when he told him it was the low sodium soy. so i had to ask every time he brought something out since he couldn't be trusted.

      mondays = happy hour all day. there's some things on the HH menu not in regular rotation, such as japanese fried chicken, but we were busy with the fish. the fish is so fresh and high quality here. definitely on par with all the other top joints in austin.

      we had the "fire salmon", which is the over-the-top flambé dish you see pictures of everywhere. it's not on the menu. the waiter's response why: "you have to come in for it". um, you have to come in for everything, you dolt. it's $19, with 4 really large pieces of raw salmon draped over a lemongrass stalk and sprinkled with soy, microgreens and marigolds. the base has some coffee bean and liquor mixture that is set on fire. the raspberry sauce on the side was superfluous.

      my companion got the tonkotsu ramen again and said the pork and eggs were even better than a few months ago. at dinner it's $13 but he couldn't finish it, so it was a generous portion. he also had the pork gyoza but didn't ooo and ahhh over them like the other stuff.

      i had the tuna tartare / truffle oil HH thingie. there were way too many fried onion slivers. it needed some kind of citrus (maybe yuzu?) or something to brighten it up and bring it all together. it was still really delicious, though. for $9, no regrets.

      also got a bunch of the HH nigiri: saba, ebi, hamachi, salmon. each piece had some kind of fruit garnish on it, some of which worked and some that were off-putting. there were tiny candied lime pieces on one (the hamachi, i think?) which overpowered the fish. the strawberry on the salmon didn't do anything for it. the ebi had a nice clean taste and wasn't too rubbery, but i prefer mine barely cooked/poached/whatever, which is really hard to find because of health regs. the saba was the best i've had in austin. just perfect, if you like mackerel.

      we shared a green tea creme brûlée because i can't have any gluten and that was one of the only GF desserts. it had a lovely matcha taste but my friend said "there isn't nearly enough burnt sugar on this!". they also gave us green tea ice cream with it, which was pretty dumb. should have been something complimentary or contrasting, imho. that was pretty much the theme of the night.

      all in all it was a really good meal that could have reached epic proportions with the right tweaks.

      thanks for reading my long post!

      3 Replies
      1. re: dinaofdoom
        slowcoooked Nov 5, 2013 08:55 AM

        this place continues to garner the love it seems to deserve from some long timers here on CH.

        1. re: slowcoooked
          dinaofdoom Nov 5, 2013 11:08 AM

          it is pretty good, and i will definitely be back. the northwest hinterlands needs more tasty places.

          one thing i would warn against, in case you really hate it--they are BIG on presentation. like, sashimi lunch presented in a glowing ice chip bowl, the flaming appetizer, a huge glass rectangle for the nigiri. even the miso soup came out in a little ceramic vessel with a top instead of the usual bowl you see elsewhere.

          my friend and i were commenting on how we could do without a lot of those extras, especially if it shaved a little off the price or made portions bigger. they invested a lot in serving ware, and that stuff isn't very important to us. but there is a lot of wow factor with almost everything.

          i was also amused that my friend was wearing a rumpled "where the sewer ends" parody t shirt and carhartts, and there were some eurotrashy types next to us who ordered the fire salmon after seeing ours.

          i love austin's casual dress dining scene. i always had to dress up to go places in boston & NYC. it's so nice to be able to eat amazing food and not worry about your outfit.

          1. re: dinaofdoom
            slowcoooked Nov 5, 2013 11:42 AM

            Oh I completely agree on all counts. Our kumamotos were these tiny little unctuous morsels of goodness that we dearly loved for their freshness, especially with the touch of caviar. But the presentation needed not be so elaborate. This jeans and tees dude hasn't been thrown from a restaurant here yet. Love that too.

      2. l
        lixlix Oct 29, 2013 12:48 PM

        I had a fairly blowout dinner there on Saturday.

        Soto has matched my previous high bar for sushi in Austin, Tomo. I love Uchi and Uchiko but for for their non sushi offerings.

        Both Soto and Tomo use the same supplier at least for the "special" stuff they get that day from the airport.

        A breakdown of what I had

        Fire Salmon - really fatty salmon belly draped over a lemongrass stalk with a dish of flaming coffee beans below. Really fun and tasty dish. You get 4 pieces of salmon with parts that are very soft and raw and also parts that are partly charred with slight fragrance of coffee. accompanying rasberry sauce a bit too sweet.

        Grilled Hamachi Kama - classic grilled yellowtail collar/cheek served with finely grated radish, ponzu, and lemon. The outside has a nice char and the meat near the bone has a lively rich texture that is the primary reason why the collar is prized over other parts of the fish.

        Grilled miso marinated black cod - Classic preparation made popular originally at Nobu. Fish was nice and flaky. Would have preferred more char. Sauce a bit too sweet.

        Aji Sashimi - Very fresh aji. The fried bones/carcass sat out a bit too long. Would have much rather sacrificed on presentation to have the fried bones and carcasses served separately and immediately after frying.

        Kumamoto oysters - very fresh, sweet, and creamy with a classic ponzu chili daikon oroshi. very good and great seasoning control.

        Foie Gras Sashimi with truffle - Tasty foie gras. Still soft inside with a slight bit of char. Good truffle flavor. Would have liked to see a slightly bigger serving/thicker slices of foie.

        Sushi

        Madai - absolutely fresh Japanese sea bream from the airport that morning.

        Uni - very good santa barbera sea urchin. Still solid and tongue like which is what you want. Not the absolute best I've had in Austin but up there.

        Shima Aji - awesome. I rarely get to have this fish and its always a treat when I do. A more buttery, subtle version compared to regular Aji.

        Amaebi/Botan Ebi - The chef picked out the largest live spot prawn he had available. Made 3 sashimi pieces out of it topped with flying fish roe. Then we had the option to have the head tempuraed or cooked in a soup. Had it in the soup. Absolutely delicious. Very crunchy and sweet flesh reminicent of lobster sashimi.

        Toro sushi - Meltingly tender and fatty. Sauce was a bit too sweet. Some of the pieces was a bit veiny which is sometimes unavoidable with toro.

        live Scallop -very fresh in a presentation that is similar to the one I saw at Tomo before Soto opened. The scallop is sliced in to 5 disks, the foot is served sliced in the center and everything is dressed with lime juice. This style originated again at Nobu where Nobu Matsuhisa tried to recreate the tiradito (japanese style ceviche) of his youth.

        yuzu ball dessert - very fun and refreshing dessert consisting of yuzu ice enwrapped in honey and white chocolate shell.

        Overall a very nice dinner with some unique dishes. Some uneven service issues. For example I ordered Tea and I was dining with 3 people total. The waiter asked if I would like 3 without explaining that tea comes out in a teapot so I ended up with 3 teapots which was somewhat space consuming on the sushi bar. Some confusion with regards to whether diners at the sushi bar give orders directly to the sushi chef or to the server.

        Looking forward to more innovative dishes and more exotic fishes. The fish quality is spot on.

        4 Replies
        1. re: lixlix
          slowcoooked Oct 29, 2013 03:40 PM

          Great report !! Everything I've had has been outstanding too. No complaints and great vibe / service.

          1. re: lixlix
            r
            Rptrane Oct 29, 2013 03:45 PM

            I went there for lunch.. I believe I had the ramen. It was pretty good, not Tatsu or ESK good but very good. Good service. I'd go back.

            1. re: lixlix
              dinaofdoom Oct 30, 2013 07:54 PM

              wow, lixlix that sounds crazy delicious! definitely gonna go for dinner sometime soon. lunch continues to be great.

              1. re: lixlix
                j
                jwynne2000 Oct 31, 2013 12:37 AM

                Great review, lixlix. Thanks for posting.

              2. c
                ccaustin Oct 29, 2013 07:54 AM

                For what it's worth, a friend of mine spotted Paul Qui dining at Soto last night.

                1. j
                  jwynne2000 Oct 22, 2013 03:22 PM

                  Wife and I went on our anniversary last week. We kinda went all out and had...

                  Enoki Mushroom Soup - Very delicate and nice depth of mushrooms. Lesser places would overcompensate with extra salt.

                  Spicy Avocado Salad - The menu description: "avocado, cucumber, crabstick, flying fish roe, mixed with spicy mayo". This was also very good, but in light of everything else we ordered, this was a tad heavy in retrospect.

                  Jalapeno Hamachi - Very nice warm up to the main show.

                  Soto Sashimi Maki - tuna, king salmon, hamachi, albacore wrapped in cucumber. I loved that this didn't have any rice. Keeps that "oh my god i'm full" feeling at bay so you can really enjoy the nigiri...

                  Nigiri (they are one per order) - Eel, mackerel, white tuna, toro, uni, and shiitake mushroom. The mackerel is my gold standard for any sushi place, because it can start getting really fishy if it's not really fresh. Soto's is the best I've ever had, period. All of their fish is so noticably fresh that it's easily in the eschelon of Uchi, and far above Mushashino, Tomo, and others big players in town. The uni had been flown in from California that day, per our waitress, and was just lovely. The shiitake mushroom nigiri was just for kicks, but turned out to be a real jaw-dropper.

                  Red bean creme brulee - creme brulee on top, red beans underneath. Hell yeah.

                  Like many others have posted, it's a really pretty restaurant in a really strange location. But it's not far from where I live, so it's nice to have some really top-notch Asian chow up here since Spin closed. Service was attentive but not overbearing like some others experienced. It's pricey, but I feel like the quality of the food and the craftsmanship in the kitchen suits the price point.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jwynne2000
                    dinaofdoom Oct 22, 2013 05:37 PM

                    so glad you posted that, jwynne. i've been really impressed with the freshness and quality of the fish when going for lunch, and was considering doing an all-out dinner for my upcoming birthday.

                  2. slowcoooked Sep 8, 2013 02:20 PM

                    Went for the first time today and spent 77 dollars on lunch with tip for the two of us. We quite enjoyed it. The place is very nicely laid out, dimly lit but bright enough, nice appointments. Two servers were handling lunch and the service was fine.

                    Best: Kumamato oysters, 3$ each, presented in the shell in a nice bowl of ice with a splash of vinegar and a teeny dollop of caviar. very creamy and fresh. We enjoyed watching the artful shucking and prep.

                    Great: Green Tea Tiramisu - just get it, outstanding. The dish was presented in a glass set in a bowl that had a sweet sort of green tea sauce. excellent.

                    Great: Shrimp tempura. About 8 inches long and filled with shrimp and nicely fried. $3 dollars each.

                    Great: Chef selection sashimi lunch. Salad dressing is a tad too sweet but well done classic ginger sesame dressing and the nice greens we both noted were cold and fresh enough to actually be nicely crunchy. very good. The sashimi was fresh, no off tastes, and included the standards and was elegantly presented. I think that was about 14 bucks.

                    Great: Her sushi lunch combo. She scarfed it.

                    Combos came with miso soup and the small salad.

                    Greasy: The eggplant tempura as previously noted was a bit on the greasy side, but we both enjoyed it enough. Just might not get that tempura again. I'll stick to those shrimp.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: slowcoooked
                      dinaofdoom Sep 10, 2013 09:54 PM

                      i've gone with a coworker for weekday lunches a few times, and really like it. i'm gluten free now so my options have been limited, but they are very accommodating. i get the sashimi lunch and it's super fresh and tasty, and the presentation (huge bowl of ice chips lit with an LED light) is very flashy. my dining companion is making his way through all the ramens. he said the tonkatsu was good, which was our first visit. once we brought someone else who got a few drinks, including an unfiltered sake served in a wooden box as a cup. th
                      e lunch apps are super expensive. it would be best to get a lunch entree and maybe a roll or 2 to share for the table as an app.

                    2. p
                      PappyAustin Apr 23, 2013 11:48 AM

                      Had lunch there today. I know nothing about Japanese food and do not eat Sushi, but the noodle lunch was very tasty. My co-worker had sushi and said it was very good. These people obviously spent a lot of money on finish-out and they seem to have many more employees than is necessary. The location is just awful. Stuck between a fabric store and a party supply store.

                      Overall, I'd say the food was very good quality and slightly overpriced. The service was excellent. Wish them luck, but afraid the location will be their downfall.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: PappyAustin
                        dinaofdoom Apr 23, 2013 04:42 PM

                        i feel the same way: the interior is so pricey and overdone for the area. i was getting seriously annoyed with how many staff were all over me. meanwhile, you go to osaka mansun down the road and they have like, 2 people waiting tables for a busy lunch rush, but they get it done.

                        1. re: dinaofdoom
                          rudeboy May 7, 2013 07:35 PM

                          I can't even determine where the hell this place is located. This is their "contact" information:

                          http://sotoaustin.com/contact

                          1. re: rudeboy
                            j
                            jwynne2000 May 8, 2013 04:42 AM

                            Lakeline Mall complex, it looks like.

                            1. re: rudeboy
                              amykragan May 8, 2013 06:13 AM

                              It's between Hancock Fabrics (used to be World Market) and Party City. It is across the parking lot from Best Buy.

                              1. re: amykragan
                                dinaofdoom May 9, 2013 07:31 PM

                                yeah, it's in the shopping plaza surrounding the mall. tj maxx, bed bath & beyond, and toys r us are the stores you can see from 183.

                        2. o
                          Optimista Mar 26, 2013 06:53 AM

                          I've heard glowing things from several friends...looking forward to trying it in the near future!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Optimista
                            dinaofdoom Mar 26, 2013 04:23 PM

                            thrillist posted about it today.
                            the pics looked good and it seemed more interesting.
                            since i went on the first day, i planned to go back anyway.
                            perhaps i'll go sooner rather than later, if they have worked out the kinks.

                          2. dinaofdoom Mar 19, 2013 04:49 PM

                            i went the day it opened, around 5. they didn't have any HH prices and it was very expensive, especially the location. the inside was really beautiful, but they were insanely overstaffed to the point that i was getting frustrated with how many people kept interrupting me to say hello and ask if everything was fine. the things i had were just meh (roasted eggplant not trimmed well and was swimming in oil, and then the tempura oysters were oversalted to the point they hurt my tongue). didn't invest in the $$$ raw fish after that, and decided to let them hammer things out for a few months before returning. if the lunch prices are a bargain, i would say try it, since they have had a few weeks to iron the wrinkles.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: dinaofdoom
                              dinaofdoom Mar 19, 2013 06:52 PM

                              checked the lunch menu, and the prices seem pretty reasonable for what you are getting so you might as well try it.

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