Brothers Tatsu and Shion Aikawa and the Tatsu-Ya family announced the opening of Tiki Tatsu-Ya on Monday, October 4. At the much-anticipated restaurant and bar, guests will be transported to an immersive, tropical paradise that delights all the senses, a place to escape the modern world and let worries drift away. A menu of shareable bites and a robust beverage program pay tribute to the tiki cocktail genre and fare, featuring renditions of iconic classics while delivering inventive, new interpretations with a Japanese influence. Located at 1300 S Lamar Blvd. in the heart of South Austin, Tiki Tatsu-Ya will be open Wednesday through Saturday, with beverage service beginning at 4 p.m. and the kitchen open from 5 to 10 p.m. On Sundays, Tiki Tatsu-Ya will offer beverage service only from 2 to 10 p.m. An expanded menu and hours of operations are in the works and will be shared at a later time. Reservations are highly encouraged and will soon be available via Resy. Updates will be shared on social media @tikitatsu_ya.
“Tiki Tatsu-Ya grew from a small seed of an idea nearly 10 years ago. Living in Los Angeles, I remember the temporary respite that I found at places like Tiki-Ti during a challenging period of life,” said operating partner Shion Aikawa. “With the stressful times we’re living in, we hope Tiki Tatsu-Ya will offer the same sense of retreat for our guests, even if it’s just a short escape.”
“Since opening our first ramen shop, our goal has always been to share the food, drink, and experiences that come from a nostalgic or meaningful place in our upbringings,” says Chef/Owner Tatsu Aikawa. “Through our travels and explorations into tiki, we learned about the rich Japanese roots in Hawaiian and tiki culture that came about through centuries of immigration and wanted to explore that further. We’re thankful for everyone who’s been along for the ride and can’t wait to welcome guests from near and far into our version of tropical paradise.”
At the heart of Tiki Tatsu-Ya’s food and beverage program is a menu of shareable bites that captures the essence of dishes that are familiar and timeless in the history of tiki heyday. The menu of ‘Ono Grinds’ (delicious food) is broken down into Munchies, Musubi, O-Sakana, and Momona. Offerings are playfully plated and reflect the melding of beloved techniques and ingredients of Hawaiian cuisine with a thoughtful Japanese sensibility.
Savory Munchies provide an appetizing start to the meal, with bites like Spam on the Half Shell with housemade spam, mango, shio koji, dandelion, and hibiscus furikake; Tropical Cheese Plate with rotating selection of cheese and accoutrements; and Pupu Platter with BBQ beef sticks, mochiko wings, Yokozuna ribs, crab lagoon (a play on crab rangoons), taro tots, and pickles.
Tiki’s menu ventures into O-Sakana raw section, including Maguro Poke, with tuna, cucumber, Kahuku Limu seaweed, taro crunch, and toasted kukui nuts, and Lomi Lomi Tataki, with salmon, tomato kosho, shiso pesto, sea beans, and macadamia nut oil. More substantial Ono Grinds, like Kona coffee-rubbed Yokozuna Pork Ribs, served with passionfruit BBQ sauce, and Stuffed Squid Luau, with applewood-smoked bacon, spinach, collard greens, and turmeric coconut curry, round out the meal. A butter mochi dessert, with pineapple jam, coconut cream, matcha, and macadamia nuts, serves a sweet finish.
Bold adventurers can pour over the map of inventive drinks featuring artwork by local, award-winning designer and illustrator Tony Canepa, complete with a compass key to decipher the tropical cocktail choices, from homage tiki cocktails to shareable original creations, ranging from flavor profiles of sweet and citrus to spiced and strong. Cocktails classic to the genre get a Tatsu-Ya take, like the Slurpin’ Bastard, with gin, shochu, brandy, bitters, ginger, cherry, and ume shrub; the Painkiller, with a blend of three rums, shiro miso, coconut cream, pineapple, and tangerine; or the Mai Tai, with a mix of fresh Martinique rum, aged Jamaican rum, and dark St. Lucian rum, along with miso-almond orgeat, lime, and mandarin.
Large-format concoctions, serving anywhere from two to eight people, kick up the thematics, like the fruit-forward Aku Aku (serves two people), a blended cocktail of pineapple, peach, lime, mint, and high-proof rum served in a pineapple; The S.O.S. - Stranded on Saturn (serves three to four people), a medley of shochu, starfruit, passionfruit, miso-almond orgeat, and falernum, served in an orb perched on a smoking gardenscape with the option to upgrade with Kingston Negroni Titan shots; and the Skeleton Cruise (serves four to six people), a combination of Japanese whisky, rum, Chartreuse, guava, lemon, pineapple, and pomegranate, served in a skull-bedazzled ship.
Leading the drinks program is Beverage Manager Cory Starr alongside Tatsu-Ya Beverage Director Michael Phillips and Tatsu-Ya Sake Sommelier Bryan Masamitsu Parsons. Starr’s mixology background includes time at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and acclaimed Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, as well as amassing several bartending accolades, including at the Annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival, Four Seasons Hundred Mile competition, and others. Starr, Phillips, and Parsons have also curated an extensive collection of rums from around the world, along with sake and shochu that complement the fare. An integral part of tiki cocktail culture, all of Tiki Tatsu-Ya’s drink vessels are custom-designed and will be available for guests looking to bring home an island souvenir. Canepa and Starr, among others, contributed the imaginative designs that will line the bar’s shelves.
With overall design by longtime collaborators McCray & Co., Tiki Tatsu-Ya’s space beckons guests to a secret island of mystery and intrigue, once home, centuries ago, to crews of lost Japanese trade ships and now a hidden tropical sanctuary, by way of Aikawa Tropical Tours, a fictional, long-forgotten travel agency.
At the entrance, located at the back of the building on Lamar Square Dr., guests will find themselves embarking on an adventure into two separate yet connected spaces. Through wooden porthole doors, they venture into the cave, peering up at a giant, two-story Shisa Dragon rock fountain. Exploring deeper, they’ll find rock walls flanked with skulls, a shield wall, and nautical accents, like fishing nets and floats. A cozy booth across the fountain puts guests in the belly of an ancient trade ship with portholes depicting scenes from the island’s discovery. At the end of the cave sits the main bar, adorned with layers of eye-catching woodwork and boasting a collection of custom mugs, glasses, and a world-class selection of rum.
Upstairs, the scenery transitions to a beach hut hideaway, the Nest bar, permanently lit in sunset tones through shuttered windows that keep the outside world at bay. Shibori (Japanese dyed fabrics), bamboo ceilings and accents, and a large art piece depicting the journey of the Japanese Ama diver (pearl diver), along with views of the Shisa Dragon fountain below, set the scene.
An immersive experience that engages all senses, Tiki Tatsu-Ya exhibits a high level of craftsmanship and a meticulous eye for details, featuring work in partnership with many local creatives, including:
Blue Genie Art Industries - Fabrication and design: Main custom fabricators including Shisa Dragon and stairway fountains; custom woodwork and finishing for entry doors, bars, tables, Shou Sugi Ban cladding, and Captain's Hull cabinetry; Shisa sculpture, door guardians, interior and exterior rock work, trim, shields, mural, dioramas, atrium, and entrance experience;
Satterfield Construction - Carpentry, finishing, design, and build: Upstairs and stairwell wall treatments; wood cladding, shutters, shelving, cabinetry and trim; painting, tiling, and bus shelter;
Natalie George Productions - Lighting design: All theatrical lighting and ceiling treatments/design;
Thrown Light - Projection mapping and video design: Shisa fountain and atrium;
Gl33k - Audio design; and
Tony Canepa - Illustrator: Menu art and select drinkware design.
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