Tribeza’s May Issue Celebrates Austin’s Innovative Culinary Community
We honor the esteemed chefs and original eateries modernizing the way locals eat and drink
By Carrie Crowe
Photos by Brian Fitzsimmons
If there’s one thing Austin’s food scene isn’t lacking, it’s creativity. Ever heard of an omakase sushi speakeasy? Me neither. Recently, I had one of the most unique, and super intimate, dining experiences — behind a bookshelf. I wasn’t sure if I was entering a secret passageway or about to arrive in Narnia. Chef Saine Wong and C.K. Chin have created an adventure that truly is a feast for the senses.
“What’s fun is that people trust me with their meal, so you create that bond from the very beginning,” Wong explains. “Then, you take them on a journey, and we talk about travels, music and all other types of experiences.”
Toshokan, which literally means “library” in Japanese, invites guests to dine at a six-seat chef counter and feast on 14 bites of sushi, while having conversations that revolve around a map displayed on the wall. Pins point to origins of this night’s ingredients and Wong’s travels — which inspired the Toshokan concept.
“I learned a new appreciation for life, food and ingredients,” Wong says. “And that’s what’s great about this concept — everything is so small that you have to think about every single flavor that goes into a dish and have appreciation for every ingredient. It’s like all my experiences, and everything has led to literally this place.”
From Hawaiian kampachi and Hokkaido scallops, to Korean braised short rib, this chef’s menu is precisely on point, and worth every bite. Let me put it this way: I haven’t eaten red meat in over two decades. Tonight, that all changed.
“Especially coming out of the pandemic, ‘Top Chef’ felt like this very hopeful thing,” says Jo. “It took me back to the roots of why I wanted to have this career to begin with. Stepping into the ‘Top Chef’ kitchen and hearing Padma say, ‘We’re about to do our first Quick Fire,’ it becomes very real very fast. And yet incredibly surreal, to be standing there in front of those judges I used to watch on TV.”
We’re definitely excited to see what’s next for Jo!
Rounding out our food issue, we’re highlighting hot spots to eat on the east side, 18 can’t-miss food trucks, local restaurants that are embracing plant-based meats, mocha munchies, Mother’s Day treats and the best local margaritas — to seal the deal. Enjoy!