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Kemuri Tatsu-Ya: Japanese Cuisine With a Texan Twist

04.19.2017 by: Tom Harris
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Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is the latest venture from Ramen Tatsu-Ya maestros Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto. Though Kemuri, located in East Austin, does dish out ramen, those dishes take a backseat to smoked preparations. The menu is meat-heavy, incorporating elements of Texas barbecue into the Japanese tradition these chefs are known for.

With a dimly lit, warm interior featuring wood paneling and bamboo ceilings, and decked out with artifacts of Texas and Japanese kitsch, Kemuri’s space reflects the kitchen’s culinary influences. Despite the izakaya's decided hipness, there’s a harmony to the design of the place that feels welcoming, even comforting.

More striking than Kemuri’s appearance, however, is its aroma—an assertively smoky richness wafting out of the kitchen during the meal. It’s akin to but not identical to the charry meaty scent you’d find in any barbecue joint in Lockhart. That smokiness shows up, to a greater or lesser degree, in most dishes you’ll find here.

The Miso Marinated Scallop Kushiyaki, one of several skewers on the menu

Kemuri’s Brisket comes fatty (toro) or lean

The Toro Brisket was a well-marbled and fork-tender hunk accompanied with a take on the traditional Texan barbecue garnishings of pickles, onions, and jalapenos.

A sparkling, straightforward Sunomono

The Cucumber Sunomono did what sunomono does—act as a light and refreshing palate-cleanser. It was a perfect complement to the other boldly flavorful dishes we ordered.

Meltingly tender Smoked Fish Collar

Now, a well-cooked fish collar is always particularly tender, but Kemuri’s version was a revelation. Moist and buttery and cut through with a sharp saltiness, it was an addictive preparation.

Understated and brooding: Kemuri’s Ochazuke

Though not totally out-there, Ochazuke was a new dish to me. In Kemuri's version, a simple scoop of rice sits in a complex, faintly tannic broth of roasted green tea. It was assertive, but in a darker, more brooding way compared to the smoked meats we tried.

Dessert was an absolutely addictive Roasted Banana Pudding served in a small mason jar. Though it incorporated “miso caramel,” Kemuri played it relatively straight, focusing on nailing the dish rather than highlighting their inventiveness.

{Kemuri Official Website}

TAGS : East Austin , Kemuri Tatsu-Ya