I was very curious on whether or not Kyoten would taste just as masterful in rice and sushi rolls once Otto left for Chicago. At the least, he does seem far happier there with his dreams and ambition creating higher places to reach.
As he stated in our interview with him, there’s someplace he’s trying to go but he may never reach it.
Otto: The fish isn’t as dry aged here as much as other places. I’m super big on progression so I have a very short memory, to be honest. I’m always on to the next thing, on to the next thing. It’s problematic for me, it’s what makes me so impatient. Unfortunately, the bad feelings last longer for me. So I need to push harder. I’m running away from the bad memories rather than relishing in the good ones. Unfortunately, that’s my realm of thinking.
Ainsley: But you have a goal to reach in the future, right?
Otto: I always take my life two years at a time, unfortunately. It’s two years that, two years this, two years that, so I’m never fulfilled.
With Chef Otto you could truly sense a desire to be greater than Austin. As he also stated in our interview with him:
Ainsley: How do you feel about the other sushi restaurants in Austin?
Otto: I think they’re terrible.
A fan base merged through the roots of Austin to be part of Otto’s fan club. I am one of those honestly. Once you meet this human you know his passion for sushi matches his disdain for being compared to Uchi. He wants to surpass sushi that is about flair and be the master of legitimate sushi that comes from practice and dedication. Which is depressing because now I feel stuck in Austin and will someday have to travel to Chicago to truly taste his skills. Kyoten has made me a sushi snob just from knowing how fish can taste. It does not need to be overtaken by odd sauces and screaming orgasms. Let it be the highlight and the shadow with nothing in between.
Once he left I feared that the drive he held to make incredible sushi would drive off with him to Chicago. I was pleasantly wrong about this as the food was almost exactly the same. The miso soup was missing the red miso so it was just the white miso, which was delightfully brighter, but I missed the umami effect. They swirl the two together for a delicious balance. Also, they were out of seaweed for the miso and I missed it floating in the soup.
The main man of the store told me the shipment was coming with everything and it just had not arrived. Before he had stated that they’d had a very busy week so perhaps this was the reason. Still, I wondered if Otto was letting things slip as he turned his focus to Chicago. Perhaps he thought Austin would not notice.
The rice was still to his high standard of no soy sauce required and the fish tasted just as fresh. I asked if the menu would be staying the same as they used to have rotating specials when Otto was running the omakase. Fish from the previous night would appear as a lunch special to give the buds unknown tastes. He said it was probably not going to change unless Otto came back because it works and it’s just a lunch menu.
The menu consists of classic rolls: The Philly, the California roll, and box pressed sushi as well as seaweed salad and miso soup. The poke bowls are the most popular and have dill that adds a delicious layer to the flavor.
My Philly roll did have too much paprika on it to the point it made it dry from so much powder, but once I scraped it off it was fresh and balanced again. I asked who was running the sushi show without Otto and he spoke in Japanese to the chef and then told me he was saying he had worked in sushi restaurants for seven years before coming to Kyoten.
The question does remain, now that the leader is gone who is going to maintain the standards?