I have to start out by saying that I love Japanese food, and I prefer authentic, properly prepared entrees. I occasionally eat sushi rolls, but mainly I like the traditional Japanese kitchen dishes. And I am not a big fan of fusing traditional Japanese ingredients with add-ins like jalapenos, cream cheese, etc. So my likes in this area are usually reserved for more traditional and authentic restaurants like Koi Kawa and Tokyo Inn and not for places like Sushi Zushi.
A Tan in New Braunfels does traditional dishes well and also offers an assortment of traditional sushi and nigiri as well as inventive, fusion-type rolls. The owners are Chinese, but the sushi chef is Japanese and the kitchen knows what it’s doing.
Located in a strip mall on Common Street east of SH46, the restaurant is a bit of a drive, but worthwhile. The inside is very attractive and clean.
On our recent visit, there were various balloons celebrating the restaurant’s recent anniversary.
We were there at lunch time, and so we ordered from the sushi menu and the lunch kitchen menu. From the sushi menu, we ordered a traditional cucumber roll (kappa maki) and two pieces of ebi (shrimp). For me, a sushi bar’s ability to make a proper kappa maki roll is very telling; and this roll was very good — correctly flavored and rolled. The cucumber was very fresh, and it cleans your palate before you dine. The ebi pieces were fresh and had just the right amount of wasabi. Also, the ginger was fresh and given in a generous amount.
The lunch entrees came with a choice of soup or salad, but we ordered both (for a couple of dollars extra). The miso soup was hot and very good, with a generous number of small tofu cubes. The salad was fresh and came with a pleasant creamy ginger dressing.
The pork tonkatsu entree came with steamed rice and a rich brown dipping sauce.
The pork was pounded thin, lightly breaded and quickly fried. The meat was moist and the portion generous as a lunch serving. The rice was good and help together well for eating via chopsticks.
The shrimp tempura entree came with four shrimp, four pieces of vegetable (cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato and onion) and rice.
The tempura coating was thin and crisp and the accompanying dipping sauce was good — not overly salty as some places serve it. The tempura is done correctly here — no fancy attempts to make tempura batter fans, etc. — just properly battered and fried fresh shrimp and veggies. Both the tempura and tonkatsu plates came with the traditional orange slice to cleanse your palate after you eat.
For dessert, there is always the banana tempura. Maybe it isn’t traditional, but it sure is good.
A scoop of vanilla ice cream is surrounded by four very warm pieces of tempura-fried bananas. Chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar make the dish complete. It’s more than enough for two to share.
I have always had good service at A Tan. I will admit that a few of the waitresses are a bit loud as they call back and forth to each other, but I am always promptly seated, promptly served and thanked for my visit.