Maiko Over

When we decided to do food & brew reviews on this site, we knew from the get-go that we were going to bring in some thoroughbred expertise – and to that end we have a surprise coming soon for you! But we also knew we would kick in some bareback opining ourselves, our only qualifications being discerning palettes, decades of globe-trotting, and the fact we built a site to say what we want said.

My polyanna genetics had horse-blindered my future eyes and somehow I had only pictured myself writing glowing reviews. I envisioned drool-worthy delectables being set in front of me by shiny happy people. Each incredible morsel that saddled my tongue would be languished over in decadent delight. My eyes would close and a deep sound that can only be written by a long parade of letter ‘m’s – sometimes with hyphens in between – would well up from my satisfaction center, alerting the attendant attendants of a job well done.

Man, would that get boring quickly. It is a good thing my first run out of the gate was a stumble and nearly a fall.

Maiko Sushi Lounge on Sixth street is a cool place. The stone walls are cut like a fashionable cellar, with steel plates attached at various portals. I had enjoyed myself here once or twice in the past. On this evening, I had started out in East Austin and walked many miles through early SxSW crowds, passing by some great open-air music. After failing to get into Doug Benson’s comedy at Esther’s, I then had my bubble-dream of leather chair recumbence at the Driskill, Chimay in hand, popped by a private event which I casually crashed. But there were still too many bodies, so I escaped through the north door near the bar and headed west of Congress. All the little ivy-covered upscale patio venues had big oafs at their closed gates, signaling at a glance that you weren’t getting in there. I was happy to find Maiko open for regular business, ready to be my oasis.

So happy, in fact, that it took me quite a while to notice that I was eating the absolute worst edamame I had ever had in my life. This includes the time I found a package that had been in my freezer for an unknown period (measured in years), then overboiled it as a precaution. Horrible, but somehow what Maiko served was worse, like some bouncy rubber pellets that should be shot out of a child’s gun so as not to hurt his playmates. It was like gnashing through gel caps to get a small burst of soy flavor that never came. I pushed it aside as the seaweed salad was set in front me.

I chopsticked a few strands up and encountered an unexpected texture: bendable glass straws shattering under my teeth. I think actual seaweed pulled from the ocean and eaten raw would be a better experience than this ‘salad’. This opinion was seconded by a dinner companion that joined late and wanted to summon the waiter over right then and there to complain. I preferred to write this article instead.

The sushi arrived with only the slimmest chance of salvaging the evening, but alas the obstacles were too great. The eel and sea bass were okay, nothing to blog home about, and the black pepper tuna was actually pretty good. On any other evening I would probably have been satisfied. But I was ready to leave. If I were that sushi chef, I would get rid of whoever is setting them up for failure by serving lousy appetizers.

l think the Maiko Sushi Lounge deserves another shot; I am hoping something is only temporarily wrong, and that it is so obvious it will be quickly caught and corrected. But it won’t be me leading the charge of second chances. If you, my brave dearhearts, want to risk your fancy night on this place and find my conclusion to be misplaced, please add a comment below. You may convince me to put my foot back in that stirrup.

Maiko Sushi Lounge

www.maikoaustin.com

311 W 6th street, Austin TX 78701

512-236-9888

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