Walk in to the sleekly-styled, modern restaurant and you’ll get the sense that TenTen, the highly-anticipated Japanese eatery in downtown Austin, isn’t the only thing that has arrived. You’ll get the sense that you’ve arrived too.
Downtown Austin has been waiting years for TenTen to arrive, after the first announcement that the upscale sushi and robata restaurant was coming. The space in the Miller Blueprint building on West Sixth Street has been transformed. For a restaurant that has been open mere weeks, Austinites are responding with a hardy ‘Arigato’.
If we’re keeping score, the designers receive a perfect ten. (Or should that be TenTen?) It’s easy to lose sight of the minimal size because the aesthetics, including a living wall with moss, captivate your attention. There are intimate table settings along the wall of windows and curved banquettes that create a sense of movement in a modern-yet-retro style. The lighting throughout the restaurant is a work of art, including the restrooms – which, like all fine art, elicited conflicting opinions of yays and nays.
Libations are served in an open and inviting bar area and include an impressive variety of sake and wine. The bartender has made the menu his own and created cocktails with Japanese flavors to specifically accompany the cuisine. When you’re ready for your meal, Executive Chef Jon Oh has commandeered a menu using decadent ingredients and variations that surprise and tempt and look almost too good to eat – but not quite!
Maki, the traditional-style roll popular with sushi lovers holds its own, and then some, on the menu. Diners can enjoy a spicy tuna roll and a salmon roll and are also encouraged to venture into new territory with the bbq toro or the hokkai, which includes king crab, scallop and salmon.
TenTen’s menu is arranged to make it easy to share plates and I highly recommend that you do – that way you can explore more of the menu. There are premium nigiri choices as well as sashimi and traditional nigiri. A selection not to miss on the menu is labeled ‘new style.’ It’s there you’ll find popular front-runner, the hamachi carpaccio, which combines the approachable fish with a vinaigrette-style yuzu sauce and fresh truffle. Robata, the Japanese cooking method that incorporates varying speeds over hot charcoal, makes its way through the menu and is a must try.
For those who work downtown, TenTen offers a new dining option while waiting for traffic congestion to ease and for those who live downtown, the restaurant promises to become a favorite. Perhaps the only folks who won’t enjoy this new establishment are those averse to sushi and robata-style foods or those who avoid high-energy environments. For everyone else, TenTen has arrived and its time to get your roll on.
Cover photo Letitia Smith
Haven Lindsey resides in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories.