Chinese cuisine

New Japanese restaurant Omakase Toshokan opens in East Austin in March

A new omakase sushi restaurant is opening this week in East Austin. Toshokan will debut in the East Austin space, the Native at 807 East Fourth Street starting Wednesday, March 2. Reservations for the month of Match will be available from tonight at midnight on Tuesday March 1st.

Toshokan’s omakase is Japanese-style while using global ingredients, influences and techniques (the name is the Japanese word for “library”). This new venture is led by co-partners CK Chin (who is also a partner at Native) and chef Saine Wong.

Toshokan’s often-changing 14-course meal will include nigiri such as Hawaiian kampachi, potato steak topped with Korean braised short rib, Hokkaido scallops with Peruvian salsa verde, up to aguachile made from botan ebi. Drinks will include Japanese whiskeys, sake pairings, sake-based cocktails and Japanese beers.

To source produce, the restaurant has partnered with local Urban American Farmer, where the team grows its own produce. This includes herbs, radicchio, peppers and tomatoes. The menu is “micro-ultra-local”, as Chin describes it.

Potato steak and Korean-style braised beef rib.
DJ Ferno/Open House Productions

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Wong attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Miami and worked at restaurants such as Gatten Sushi and Little Bear. He traveled the world in 2018 for 18 months where he explored the cuisines and food cultures of 26 countries.

Wong met Chin while cooking at Sushi | Bar ATX imported from Los Angeles in May 2021 when they started talking about opening something together. Chin didn’t want to open a traditional edomae or kaiseki-style sushi bar, as he explained to Eater, pointing to other local restaurants that do it well, like Tsuke Edomae and Otoko. Rather, Toshokan is their way of honoring Japanese cuisine through their experiences, especially as people of Chinese descent. “When you have six seats, you’re not competing with anyone,” he says. “It’s a love song written by the chef.”

Sushi isn’t new to Chin either. He had been managing partner of the now-closed Imperia restaurant and general manager of the pan-Asian restaurant Kenichi at the time. He remains co-founder of the new American restaurant Swift’s Attic and the modern Chinese restaurant Wu Chow.

A taller man in a long-sleeved black shirt with his arms crossed next to a shorter man in a long-sleeved black t-shirt and dark blue apron with his arms crossed.

CK Chin and Saine Wong
DJ Ferno/Open House Productions

Toshokan’s physical space is an old Native’s bedroom, accessed through a library. There will be two seats at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, limited to six people each. While reservations for March will be available from tonightt midnight, going forward, reservations will open on the first of every month for the following month. Dinners are $125 per person.

The Native stopped operating as a hostel at the start of the pandemic, temporarily operated as monthly apartment rentals for a while, then simply turned the rooms into commercial spaces, including Eastend Tattoos. While the bar remains open, the on-site restaurant has since closed, but there are plans to add food trucks after South by Southwest. And while Creature Coffee has closed its cafe space in the hostel, idlewild will resume this section in March.

A restaurant counter space.

Toshokan’s counter space in the Native.
DJ Ferno/Open House Productions