Galleria sushi spot focuses on freshness

When Southwest Austin resident Shawn McClain traveled to Omiya, Japan, for a vacation about nine years ago, he didn't speak a word of the Japanese language.

During his four-year stay, he managed a bar and learned as much as he could about Japanese food.

"[The food] is awesome; I love it," he said.

After returning to Austin, he became business partners with Jenna Kim, with whom he has operated Izumi Sushi & Grill Restaurant for about five years. In 2013 the pair decided to open a second restaurant, Tadashi, 12820 Hill Country Blvd., Ste. E-105, Bee Cave, to give Austin another option for traditional sushi with American fusion.

"We feature a live and wild [fish] list that's a little bit more extensive than other places," McClain said, noting that three times a week Tadashi picks up fresh wild and live fish from the airport.

Tadashi offers weekly specials, some of which have turned into regular menu items, such as the sliced raw bigeye tuna served with goat cheese, pumpkinseed oil and spicy miso, he said.

Popular entrees include the miso-glazed black cod. The most popular appetizer is cooked wild game gyoza made with ostrich, bison and venison, he said. The business offers a variety of sushi rolls; sashimi, or sliced raw fish; and nigiri, which is raw fish served atop rice.

Tadashi also offers a variety of noodle dishes including Nabeyaki udon, a soup with noodles, fresh vegetables and poached egg served with a side of shrimp tempura.

The restaurant's clientele is a mix of families and couples, McClain said, and his goal is for them to see sushi in a new light.

"I want people to experience a nice meal," he said. "I want them to have a meal that they've never had before in terms of sushi quality, kitchen quality and service quality, too."

Raw options

The Sushi Lover lunch special ($11–$14) includes five pieces of assorted nigiri, three pieces of tempura roll, and one sushi roll such as the Rainbow Roll.

Ceviche ($12) features mangoes, pomegranate, onions, tangerine, and a choice of raw salmon or tuna.

Belly trio ($24) comes with assorted tuna, salmon and yellowtail belly sashimi, featuring flavors including roasted garlic.

Cooked foods

Nabeyaki udon ($14) soup features noodles in broth made with vegetables and a poached egg, served with shrimp tempura.

The restaurant's miso-glazed black cod ($25) comes with grilled mixed vegetables.

Chilean seabass ($24) is topped with miso, eryngii mushrooms and grilled asparagus.

The chicken teriyaki bento box ($19) comes with miso soup, popcorn shrimp, vegetable tempura, gyoza, a California roll, steamed rice and the restaurant's daily special appetizer.

Sushi secrets

Tadashi co-owner Shawn McClain learned a few things about sushi from living in Japan and working in a Japanese bar.

His tips for sushi first-timers include:

  • Use just a dollop of the wasabi. "[Chefs] want you to taste the fish," he said, noting this is the traditional Japanese way to incorporate the condiment.

  • Flip over the nigiri. When eating nigiri, sliced raw fish on top of rice, flip the piece over so that the fish—not the rice—hits the tongue first.

  • Don't jump around the plate. "My chef will be watching people while he's making the nigiri, and he'll look to see if the person is left-handed or right-handed," he said. The chef will then place the fish on the plate in the order he wants diners to taste them.

Tadashi, 12820 Hill Country Blvd., Ste. E-105, 512-263-3200,

  • Mon.–Thu. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

  • Fri. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

  • Sat. noon–10 p.m.

  • Sun. 5–9 p.m.