500 Tacos: Lucky Robot

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Lucky Robot
1303 S. Congress Ave. (map), 512-444-8081, www.luckyrobotrestaurant.com
Hours: 11am-10pm Mon-Fri; 10am-10pm Sat-Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.13.15
In the pantheon of overused food-writer words, more than a few start with “F.” Foodie, farm-to-table, fusion. Lucky Robot puts the pedal to the metal on that last one, with a taco menu lurking among the maki rolls, sushi, teriyaki and udon. Can you spell taco with an F? We’ll find out.
The taco: Love Replica
The name is a mystery to me, except that love can bring the same heartache as a piece of good ahi tuna seared past coral red on its way to grey. On its own, this kind of seared ahi would torpedo a dish. But as part of a fusion taco, the fish has lots of textural and flavor-added company, and its sesame crust brings a nutty balance to a dress of avocado and basil, with dried cranberries for color and gummi-bear chewability. Wasabi aioli might have crashed the party, but it’s as disciplined as a bodyguard. Just dangerous enough to be interesting. ($4.95)
 Karaage chicken: Fried chicken and tacos can be best best friends. Just ask Torchy’s. And this taco — with nuggets of white meat in crisp breading and sweet chili sauce, dressed with basil, razor-thin cucumbers, tiny cashews and mild onion — is full of potential. But the tortilla’s the dealbreaker here, the wrong kind of rubbery starch for an otherwise intriguing blend of high herbal garden party and low fried-chicken picnic. ($4)
 Tortillas: Another fusion taco outpost, East Side King, extends its duotone cultural embrace by building its poached octopus “Tako Taco” on a shell like an oversized wonton wrapper. At Lucky Robot, the fusion ends at the tortilla’s edge, if a storebought flour tortilla had anything like an edge.
 Salsa: Do ginger and wasabi count? No? Certainly the sweet chili sauce, wasabi aioli and soy sauce would. But these tacos come with the flavors already calibrated, and sauce would spin them off their centers.
 Sushi: The best people behind a sushi bar are the kind who dress each piece with a little yakumi — something to create a complete bite. At Lucky Robot, lemon zest adds a pool of light to fatty salmon, and a light soy glaze turns seared eel into a bite for dessert. A piece of pearled suzuki, on the other hand, gets bullied by radish and a drop of sriracha. Good rice on all three. ($2.25-$3)
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)