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Austin gem: Sushi Niichi - inexpensive, good, near UT

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  • chow-a-holic Nov 16, 2005 04:49 PM
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I'd like to give a little plug to the place I ate lunch today. Sushi Niichi on 24th st. between Guadalupe and Lamar. Right next to Momoko. As always, today I left with a warm fuzzy feeling from the tastiest miso soup, well prepared tasty sushi, peaceful atmosphere, and the wonderful service. You really couldn't ask for nicer hosts, and the prices are easy on the wallet.

This is the second time I've posted about this place, and I promise I am in no way affiliated with them . . . I just really like it, and business seems to be very slow when I go at lunch, and I don't want them to close or stop serving their tasty lunch specials. Sorry if you read my other post already. I just wanted to get the word out that this best-kept-secret is still there, serving up good stuff, and still seems to be a secret!

I grabbed a lunch menu. Here's an excerpt of their lunch specials (which they serve from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm):

Full bento boxes: (comes with miso soup, salad, veggie tempura, 4 pieces of california roll)
-- chicken katsu bento $6.95
-- fish katsu bento $7.95 (also comes with the above)

They also have a selection of smaller lunch sets (come with miso soup):
-- Spicy Fish of the Day Roll $6.95
-- Fish Katsu w/rice $5.95
-- Veggie Teryaki w/rice $5.95

Tell me where you can get a deal like those!!!

They have my favorite miso soup b/c it's full of green onions and other garnish. Miso soup is hard to mess up, but theirs is extra good. The salads are fresh and come with a delicious gingery house dressing. The place is small and very nicely decorated - modern, lots of light and bamboo/wood. Service is very warm and careful but not overbearing. They also have parking, a convenience in the campus area.

They don't seem to advertise, and it doesn't seem like the word has gotten out. Seems like if it did, they'd be mobbed the way Banzai used to be on the drag in the good ole days.

Anyway, thanks for reading the long post. If you like sushi or japanese food, and are hunting for a good deal, this is worth a try. Ditto if you work or eat near campus/downtown.

Link: http://austin.citysearch.com/profile/...

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  1. I've thought about eating at this place, but I've driven by many times and seen no one inside. That concerns me with a sushi place, since I worry about the freshness of thier fish.

    Now that I've read your recommendation, I'll go check it out. I might stick to the cooked items first.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mike B

      yes, that is a concern. i haven't tried their chicken or fish katsu, or other cooked dishes. I'd be interested to hear how they are.

      For what it's worth, I've eaten there perhaps 4-5 times, each time eating sushi, and have never had any problem. But it's better to trust your instinct (go with your gut?) on that one. ;)

    2. I tried Sushi Niichi for the first time yesterday (Friday). It was empty when I got there at 1 PM, and no one else came in while I was there. I had the fish (flounder) katsu don with rice and miso soup. Everything was delicious. I will go back, and I certainly hope I don't find it closed up for lack of business.

      Jim

      7 Replies
      1. re: Jim Washburn

        Glad to hear the katsu don was good. I'm going to try one of those next time. Also very happy to hear that you liked the place. Everyone I've sent that way has had a good experience, so I can recommend it with no hesitation. Maybe our posts will help get the word out and this little mom & pop will make it.

        They certainly fill a vacuum when it comes to UT area sushi, and inexpensive Japanese food in general.

        Go Sushi Niichi!!! You can do it!! Everyone tell your friends! Sushi Niichi rocks!

        Okay, I'm done. :)

        1. re: chow-a-holic

          Ok, I'm going to try it out tomorrow and report back. I'll go in regardless of if the place is empty or not.

          1. re: Mike B

            And I will try it later in the week. We don't want to overwhelm them.

            1. re: TravisLeroy

              Ok, I went to Niichi today for a late lunch, and surprise... I was the only one there!

              The place is nicely setup for being a casual/fast sushi joint. Unfortunately, it is a bit awkward being the only one in a restaurant besides the workers. Hopefully, this can be resolved through advertising and word of mouth.

              I ordered the chicken katsu bento box, two pieces of salmon, and a roll (I forget the name of it) which had shrimp tempura and thin shreds of crab on top. The roll came with a free sake.

              The good:
              - Miso soup! I really enjoyed it, but it may have too many onions for some folks.
              - Hot green tea. Just the way the tea should be. Ultra-hot and flavorful. A lot of sushi places in Austin get this wrong.
              - Tempura in the bento box. The tempura was lightly fried and coated, very fresh and hot. Many sushi places in Austin use too much coating and overcook the tempura.
              - Service was friendly.

              The decent:
              - Salmon sushi pieces. Not great, but not bad. Definitely good for the price.
              - The roll. Pretty good, but I don't think I would get this roll next time I go back.
              - California roll in Bento box. Ok, but nothing to get excited about.
              - The salad. I prefer miso style dressing on Japanese salads. The dressing at Niichi is a creamier dressing.

              The not so good:
              - Chicken katsu. Maybe it was an off day, but I won't be getting the chicken katsu again and this is one of my favorite things. It was overcooked and bland. The cut of chicken was too fatty. Too greasy overall. No katsu sauce to dip it in, but there was some sauce on top.

              Final grade: B considering the price point. I definitely will return at least for take out. It is very close to where I live, they have parking, and it is a good deal in general. I would like to try some of their other dishes.

              Thanks for the heads up.

              1. re: Mike B

                There are some odd differences between your experience and mine. My miso soup had very little green onion. I would have been glad to have had a good bit more, but the soup was excellent as it was. Certainly, I can't imagine anyone would have thought it was too much onion. My fish katsu was perfectly cooked, and I did get katsu sauce with it. I speculate that you had different cook and waiter.

                Jim

                1. re: Jim Washburn

                  Just stopped in for post-T'giving antidote at Sushi Niichi. Excellent miso...the best I've had in Austin. And Fish Katsu. Mmmmmmwah! Lovely service. But alas, I was the only one in there...

                  1. re: Jim Washburn
                    c
                    chow-a-holic

                    I've been getting the chicken and fish katsu bento boxes lately . . . I'm with Jim - you must have had the chicken on an off day. Mine has always had the sauce and has been fairly light and not greasy. The first times I went, I noticed the bounty of green onions in the miso soup, but I liked them. Noticed they werent there last time.

                    And good news - the last few times I've either been there (at night) or driven by, I've seen at least a few tables of people. On one saturday, the place was nearly full!! A definite improvement. But what with the crappy options around the UT area, and the uniquely inexpensive, tasty, well-rounded meals to be found in Sushi Niichi's bento boxes, I can't believe they don't have people lined up. Especially when you can't get a seat at Madam Mam's for lunch. I think no one knows about Sushi Niichi. They barely even have a sign. But it seems the word is getting out. For their sake (and mine), I hope so.

                    Mmmm . . . tempura sweet potato. I think I'm going tomorrow!!