13492 N. Hwy 183 #160
Austin, Texas 78750
Phone: (512) 918-8012
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sat. 12 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Closed Sun.
Osaka Mansun is a small sushi den tucked away in a shopping center at the intersection of Highway 183 North and Anderson Mill Road. It’s the kind of mom-and-pop feeling eatery where the wait staff recognizes you when you’ve been in a few times, and the sushi chefs personally greet everyone who comes in through the door. I discovered this place several years ago, and keep coming back again and again.
I am a huge fan of sushi. Austin certainly has no shortage of sushi restaurants, but I’ve found myself unpleasantly surprised with a number of Austin area sushi destinations. More than a few fall prey to caring more about a swanky vibe than they do about having authentic, fresh menu options. Several also seem to go out of their way to design menus that disguise the fish in sushi, undoubtedly to cater to those more comfortable with a California roll than a slice of tuna sashimi (and perhaps to disguise fish that is not at its freshest). At Osaka, however, the sushi is incredibly fresh, inventive, and reasonably priced, and the chefs are not afraid to let the fish itself star in its sushi rolls.
Osaka’s recently revised menu offers a number of tasty, impressive sushi appetizers. In fact, Osaka is one of only a handful of Austin establishments that features daily fresh deliveries of fish to ensure the highest quality sushi offerings.
The Bang Uh (Cilantro Himachi) was elegant and refined, featuring yellowtail sashimi, sriracha sauce, jalapeno, a cilantro soy sauce, and crunchy garlic chips.
The baked Scallop Fuego was a bit fussier, with avocado, crab, cream cheese, and a generous helping of baked sea scallop. This dish was very crunchy and surprisingly spicy, thanks to an accompanying Korean spicy creamy sauce, but missed the delicacy of the Bang Uh.
Osaka’s sushi and sashimi choices run the gamut from the expected (tuna, salmon, and yellowtail) to the unusual. Two of my favorite, more unusual selections are wasabi tobiko (fish eggs infused with wasabi) and surf clam (a vibrantly colored meat with a soft, chewy body and sweet flavor).
For those with a taste for spicy dishes, the house-made spicy scallop is loaded with delicate, chopped scallop and packed with heat. It brings tears to my eyes, but I keep coming back for more. The stand-alone sushi choices come two per order, and are an excellent way to introduce yourself to new fish flavors. The chefs are friendly and knowledgeable, as well, so I recommend asking them what is fresh or particularly tasty on the day of your visit.
Osaka also offers a wide range of sushi rolls, which are presented in a diner-friendly menu providing photos of each roll, along with a list of all ingredients. For the sushi eater who really enjoys tasting fish in a sushi roll, Osaka makes a delicious Rainbow Roll. Osaka’s menu also includes some truly beautiful, unique rolls. The Spicy Fu Fu (spicy tuna, avocado, and cucumber with fresh salmon) marries two sushi staples–spicy tuna and salmon–with a creamy, spicy sauce and the crunch of tempura flakes.
The Mother and Child is another beautiful option (although the large roe on top of the roll has a briny taste that might not be to everyone’s liking). Osaka even includes several baked rolls.
We tried the Jalapeno Hamachi on our recent visit, which includes yellowtail, pickled jalapeno, and cream cheese deep fried and served with a cilantro ponzu sauce. It’s not my favorite dish, but it’s a good bet for diners not quite ready for the fully raw options.
For those less comfortable with full fishy flavors, there are also some creative fruit-based rolls (a friend of mine is a huge fan of the Crunch Avocado and Mango roll, which features soy bean paper wrapped around mango and avocado with tempura flakes and eel sauce).
In addition to its stellar sushi options, Osaka also offers a full menu of Korean dishes, Bento boxes, and tempura offerings. But, what makes Osaka worth a drive to North Austin is the fresh sushi and craftsmanship of the sushi chefs. Although Osaka’s intimate dining area makes for good conversation and a cozy vibe, it can fill up at peak hours, and particularly at lunch. But, if you’ve got the time, it’s worth the wait. If you can, steal a seat at the sushi bar. You’ll be treated to an excellent display of knife skills, and it’s the best place for seeing what looks good and asking the chefs any questions you might have.