This New Year’s Eve I started a new tradition - splurging on an exquisite sushi omakase in my hometown of Austin, Texas.
Ever since my trip to Japan last year, where I also aced a sushi omakase (read more about that experience here), I have been literally hungering for a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure to transport me back to my life-changing foodie trip to The Land of the Rising Sun.
Soto opened in 2017 and has always been one of my favorites.
Soto’s omakase menus range from $175 to $250 per person, so this is not an everyday activity; however, New Year's Eve only comes once a year, and I thought my meal was TOTALLY WORTH IT.
In a culinary homage to my time spent in Tokyo, we began with no fewer than eight specials off Soto's Japan Express menu, which is comprised of sushi flown to Austin from the famous Toyosu fish market in Japan's capital city.
Before we began the meal, I had to remind myself of a a few essential tips I learned in Japan about sushi omakases:
Never Rub Your Chopsticks Together - this is a major faux pas
Always Put the Fish Side of the Nigiri on Your Tongue First - in order to get the fish flavor on your taste buds instead of the rice
Avoid Using Soy Sauce - the chef has prepared the dish as its intended to be consumed
With all that in mind, my friend and I had all of the starred items from the menu above, including the following:
Kinki - idiot rockfish (i am not kidding this is really the name of the fish)
Inada - baby yellowtail
Shinano Yukimasu - snow trout
Kama Toro - premium bluefin fatty tuna
Mizu Tako - hokkaido octopus
Dish after dish and course after course came out, and our friendly server explained everything about these elaborate and sumptuous plates.
On the left is the Kanpachi Carpaccio with amberjack, shallot oil and Thai basil. The citrus-flavored acidic oil paired perfectly with the buttery fish before the fried shallots hit your tongue with a satisfying crunch.
In the middle are the special nigiri listed above. Each piece was constructed with care and had its own flavor profile. My favorite was the Kama Toro at the far end, which was a melt-in-your-mouth premium fatty bluefin tuna.
On the right is the Hirame Truffle. The combination of the delicate olive flounder along with truffle ponzu, negi oil and copious amounts of black winter truffle was divine.
We then had more sushi brought to the table, including my favorite Umi Masu, which is an ocean trout with moromo miso, negi oil and chives.
In total, I think we did more than 15 different nigiri along with the two special appetizers.
In final succession, we devoured the uni pasta, the tuna and foie gras sushi with truffles, and the lobster tempura (see photos below).
Soto's service was impeccable, and the kitchen sent us a free extra dish of warm, smoked fish with truffle oil and banana pepper, the presentation of which was INCREDIBLE (see below).
We were offered dessert, but I simply could not fit another morsel into my very full belly.
If you are looking for a sushi omakase for a special occasion, Soto should be in your consideration set.
I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2024, and please feel free to join me on December 31, 2024 for my next New Year’s sushi omakase adventure!
To read more of my restaurant reviews from Austin and around the world, check out the Travel and Wanderlust section of my website.