Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Longtime Uchi chef leaves to team with Kome owners for new sushi restaurant

Matthew Odam
A blast from the past: Uchi has been a training ground for some of the city’s best chefs. In this picture from 2005 are (left to right), Masazumi Saio (opening Uroko), Vu Le (partner in East Side King), Uchi founding chef-owner Tyson Cole, Yoshi Okai (chef at Otoko) and former James Beard Award winner Paul Qui. [Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

If you have spent any time getting acquainted with the sushi scene in Austin, you know Masazumi Saio. The bespectacled and mustachioed chef worked at Uchi since opening day in 2003. He recently took leave of his longtime home, a move acknowledged a few days ago by Uchi chef-owner Tyson Cole on Instagram, as he prepares for his first venture outside of Uchi.

Masa will join Takehiro Asazu and Kayo Asazu, owners of Kome, to open Uroko (which means “fish scale” in Japanese), a sushi restaurant in Springdale General (1023 Springdale Road) set to open in mi-April. Uroko is not just a sushi restaurant, the ambitious project will be split into three areas, according to Asazu. The restaurant will focus on temaki (hand rolls) at lunch, and also offer sushi classes and weekend omakase (chef tasting) from chefs Saio and Asazu on Friday and Saturday nights. The reservation-only omakase menus will be served during a 45-minute service.

“It may sound too much for one small spot, but we three are all anxious to try these concepts we always wanted to try,” Kayo Asazu said, adding that they are excited to share their skills with customers interested in making sushi at home.

Takehiro and Kayo Asazu opened Kome on Airport Boulevard in 2011 after first coming to the attention of sushi lovers in 2009 with their trailer, Sushi-a-Go-Go and catering business, Deli Bento. Kome moved a few blocks down Airport in 2017, and the couple and their partners opened a second location of Sa-Ten, a coffee shop specializing in Japanese toasts, in the original Kome space.

Other tenants already slated to join Uroko at Springdale General (near Springdale Road and Airport Boulevard) include Caffe Medici ROasting & Coffee Shop, Zhi Tea, Feel Good Pilates and a slew of creative office space.