Smoke Over a Water

July 24, 2017 - bbq set

The ramen aristocrat of Austin writes a new section in a book of Texas barbecue.

By August 2017Comments

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

Photographs by John Davidson

Tatsu Aikawa was only 10 years aged when he left Tokyo for his new home in Elgin, a sausage collateral of Texas. His mom and father had divorced, and she had taken him and his younger brother, Shion, to a U.S. It’s tough to suppose a some-more sheer disproportion in landscape, or a larger informative shift. The family would eventually immigrate to Austin, though their time in Elgin would infer serendipitous: there was a smoker in a yard, and Tatsu’s mom put it to good use, giving him an early preparation in a art of smoking Texas style, despite with opposite materials. “We baked fish instead of brisket,” Tatsu told me.

As an adult, Tatsu trafficked a informed trail from dishwasher to prep prepare to sous cook to successful restaurateur, assembly along a approach Takuya “Tako” Matsumoto, an Austin internal and Le Cordon Bleu graduate, while they were both moonlighting as DJs in clubs around town. They connected over their common yearning for authentic Japanese cuisine, generally ramen, so they motionless to figure out how to make it themselves. After a brief army in Los Angeles, where Tatsu worked for a Michelin-starred Urasawa, he came behind to Austin with recipes and a devise for what would turn Ramen Tatsu-Ya. Along with Tako and Shion, he non-stop a little noodle emporium in 2012, and it immediately set a internal dining stage on fire. There were lines out a doorway of a medium strip-center mark and, later, accolades from Bon Appétit, Food Wine, and Time Out USA, that announced Tatsu-Ya’s ramen a best in a United States. Much of that success no doubt came from a flawlessness of a cooking. “We didn’t wish to Americanize it,” Tatsu stressed.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

But he couldn’t conflict a summons call of that Elgin smoker, and it wasn’t prolonged before he was adding brisket from Smitty’s Market into his tonkotsu ramen. In 2015, Tatsu and Tako collaborated with Austin’s preeminent pitmaster, Aaron Franklin, featuring his brisket during their dual Ramen Tatsu-Ya locations (the second had non-stop early that year) and also appearing on his PBS show, BBQ With Franklin. Tatsu was bending on this Japanese-Texan mash-up, and he started to consider about opening another ramen shop, one whose menu would incorporate even some-more barbecue. The 3 partners set off to find a mark to residence a new grill and, as fitness would have it, detected that a former home of Live Oak Barbecue, in East Austin, was available, as was a smoker. They sealed a franchise and got bustling experimenting with a pit. But Tatsu fast satisfied that his ambitions were grander than ramen. “I had some-more of a story to tell,” he said. And so a ramen emporium became an izakaya, Japan’s chronicle of a gastropub, and a smoker they’d hereditary became a workhorse for what Tatsu would report as “a Japanese immigrant’s review with Texas barbecue.”

As we detected when we sat down for a dish during Kemuri Tatsu-Ya (“kemuri” is Japanese for “smoke”), that review is one you’ll wish to lay in on. With a cube of palatable smoked beef between your fingers and a sour unfeeling within reach, it’s tough to omit a parallels between Kemuri and any other Texas grill joint. Never mind that a beef is octopus, and a unfeeling is sunomono, a vinegary cucumber salad. If you’re still not convinced, one punch of a hamachi kama, or yellowtail collar, should do a trick. The cherished cut only next a gills is cold-smoked, afterwards hot-smoked, afterwards grilled over Japanese binchotan charcoal. Unimaginably rich, it’s a sea’s answer to greasy brisket. we asked Tatsu if a devise was to emanate a Texas grill corner all along. “Yes and no,” he said. “We’re only freestyling.” There is brisket on a menu (lean or “toro”), served on a possess or as partial of a renouned BBQ Boat (also filled with equipment like smoked pig loin, steep breast, or eel, depending on a day). But honestly, in a place like Austin, where glorious brisket is easy to find, it’s a slightest constrained thing on a menu. Kemuri’s freestyling opinion is best exemplified by witty equipment like a Hot Pocketz—brisket and smoked Gouda inside a tofu skin sparse with melted cheddar cheese—and a Chili Cheese Takoyaki, an talented take on Frito cake that uses crispy octopus instead of chips. And, of course, a ramen guys would not leave we though ramen. But instead of tawny tonkotsu or duck shoyu, it’s ramen done with smoked beef bones, with additions like brisket, lime, and jalapeño.

It is certainly barbecue, though is it Texas barbecue? Absolutely. In Kemuri, Austin is temperament declare to a start of a new section in a ever-expanding book of barbecue. Immigrants—Germans in Lockhart, African Americans in East Texas, Sicilians in Waco—are during a base of a traditions, so it should be no warn that they would also be partial of their evolution. With a lovely alloy of flavors and techniques, Kemuri is an oasis for grill lovers who already had a three-meat image for lunch. Whether or not it meets your clarification of grill is something we can confirm for yourself after we finish your meal—and don’t forget a roasted-banana pudding.

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