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Review: Haiku Japanese Restaurant (Austin, TX)

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Posted by johngl

Hungry Sunday noon
We were on a mission south
Haiku saved the day


Photo from austin.citysearch.com

My most glorious spousal unit (Susan) and I were heading home from an extremely disappointing visit to the Austin Convention Center and the so-called Home & Garden Show (an hour I will never get back) when she suggested we go to South Park Meadows to seek out some lunch. There are a lot of food establishments in that shopping center and we have through most of them — once.  Even so, I was game as it is close to home.

It was already over 100° (our 46th such day this year) and given the terrible trade show, the last thing I wanted to deal with was a packed family restaurant and screaming children.

We looked up and noticed Haiku (just up the street from Waterloo Ice House) and not knowing what to expect, we wandered in, sweaty and forlorn.

We were immediately greeted by a two smiling, smartly dressed young ladies (and a blast of cool air).  I looked around the place and it was sparkling clean, quiet, with a subdued elegance. OK!

We were seated and asked immediately if we needed something to drink.  Judd, our waiter, delivered our waters with citrus, my standard opening order, in about a minute along with those wonderfully comforting warm, wet towels good Japanese restaurants supply their patrons.  I hadn’t even ordered any food yet and I was a happy guy.

I ordered the Sushi Dinner, described as ten pieces of assorted sushi and a crunchy roll.  It also came with a soup and salad, all for $18.  I went for miso on the soup.  Susan ordered the Seafood Soup ($5) and the Honey Wasabi Shrimp appetizer ($8).  We later added a couple of beers, one Sapporo and one Kirin Ichiban (16oz bottles, $5 each).

My miso soup was excellent.  Susan’s seafood soup was even better. When my tray of sushi arrived, I noticed there were actually eleven pieces along with four rather large slices from a sushi roll (I love it when a restaurant over-delivers).  The fish was wonderfully cut (no chewy bits) and extremely fresh tasting.  Susan’s shrimp were large and wonderfully done.  There wasn’t too much honey, so it wasn’t too sweet nor was there too much wasabi — just enough to clear the sinuses.  The ice-cold bottled beers each came with a frosty cold mug.  Awesome.

The service was impeccable.  Empty bowls and plates were removed promptly.  Judd was attentive without being bothersome.

Some might say that a $41 (without tax) lunch for two is a bit spendy.  However, just yesterday, I had lunch with a friend at Chuy’s new South location.  We shared an appetizer, had three twelve ounce beers between us, and had an entree each.  That came to about $35 without tax.  While the service was good and the food decent, the place was incredibly noisy and children ran around uncontrolled by their preoccupied parents. I didn’t get the super-friendly greeting at the door (instead, we got a sleepy-eyed young man in a wrinkled shirt).  I didn’t get that warm and moist (and positively refreshing) hand towel either.

There wasn’t a shortage of food at either location, but dollar for dollar, the extra six bucks we paid at Haiku was totally worth it.  I probably won’t go back to Chuy’s any time soon, but you can bet that I will be back to Haiku.

And before anyone jumps my shit about comparing a Tex-Mex style joint with a Japanese restaurant, I will just say that you’ll have helped me make my case.  $17.50 per person vs. $20.50 per person. Twelve ounce beers vs. sixteen ounce beers. Basic Tex-Mex fare vs. super-fresh seafood.  Each has their place.  I have chosen mine.

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2 Responses to “Review: Haiku Japanese Restaurant (Austin, TX)”

  1. maksim says:

    Amazing! Just yesterday we stopped by that place which we just stumbled upon and I was gonna tell you about it, but hey! You already reviewed it!

    I got an awesome mahi-mahi breaded and fried, and Shay had shrimp stuffed with crab meat with wasabi-peanut butter sauce. The sauce was fabulous. We also had fried rice and, lemme tell you, that was the best fried rice I’ve ever had. It was perfectly al dente and had that smoky flavor that previously I’ve only had with a very good paella. I’m on a mission to figure out how to make fried rice like that.

    Oh, yeah, and I need the recipe for the wasabi sauce. And the place does not even have a web site! Bummer!

    • johngl says:

      I’ve been back to Haiku several times and have yet to be disappointed. They have great food and great service! Thanks for chiming in with your own review!

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