the way to my heart, UCHI

IMG_2604

In sum, Uchi is the way to my heart… yes, the way is paved with salmon sashimi and karaage.

I have had the pleasure of dining at all the current Uchi locations.  For those of you who do not know, award-winning chef Tyson Cole started Uchi in Austin, Texas, followed by its sister Uchiko (also Austin, TX), then opened Uchi (Houston), and will soon open Uchi (Dallas).  Uchi is my current favorite restaurant because it is consistently delicious, the service hospitality is amazing, and, bottom line, I love sushi.

Myth Busting:

  • “The wait is crazy.”  Yes, this can be true, get a reservation or go on a weeknight.  I have walked in before on a weeknight and waited about 15 minutes.
  • “It is way too expensive.”
    • Sushi can generally be expensive, but Uchi’s pricing is not excessive!    Review the menus using these links and be your own judge.  (Austin Uchi, Austin Uchiko, Houston Uchi, Dallas Uchi)
    • Uchi also has a daily happy hour “Sake Social” everyday from 5:00 – 6:30 featuring small plates from $3-$6 and discounted drinks.  Some locations limit Sake Social to certain parts of the restaurant, but ask for it and they will likely give you the happy hour menu wherever you are sitting.
    • You can get half-orders of some dishes, like the brie ringo.  Ask, and see if they have a half-order available if you want to try something out.
  • “Vegans or vegetarians get ripped off at sushi places.”  Admittedly, at most sushi places the vegetarian roll will be a combination of cucumber, rice and avocado.  Uchi has an entire vegetarian menu.  Even if you are an omnivore, you can ask for it to see the variety and get some veggie items.

The Highlights:

Karaage ($10) – Having earned the title of best fried chicken Uchi’s tempura-fried chicken, is one of my favorite eats of all time and I love fried chicken.  Coated with magic (magic = fish sauce, some spice, garlic, maybe vinegar?), battered in tempura, and fried to perfection, each piece has the crunchy exterior and juicy interior that will leave you salivating for more.  Made to be eaten with chopsticks, each piece is boneless and bite-sized (big bites).  The dish comes with seasonal vegetables pickled in-house that offer the perfect fresh counterpart to the dish.

Karaage (fried chicken) with vegetables pickled in-house.
Karaage (fried chicken) with vegetables pickled in-house.

Salmon Sashimi (sake fresh salmon is $14, other sashimi prices vary) – if you are a sashimi fan, you will not taste better-quality sashimi than Uchi.  Served over a bowl of ice, each bite of sashimi melts in your mouth.  You have to ask for the wasabi, but they will gladly bring wasabi and ginger upon request.  The Daily Specials provide some unique sashimi options for the adventurous type.  Sake is my personal favorite.

Generous portion of Salmon Sashimi
Generous portion of Salmon Sashimi

Fried Milk ($9) – Warning: after trying this dessert, you may experience severe withdrawals and other addiction symptoms.  The milk sorbet (seriously, milk never tasted so good) is my favorite component of the variety of items that make the Fried Milk a masterpiece.  (See diagram below).  I have never tasted a more well-balanced dessert, especially for chocolate lovers, that includes sweet, salty, soft, crunchy, and even refreshing cold milk in the form of the sorbet to finish-off each bite.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 4.03.42 PM
Fried Milk Diagram created by eatsbyPK

The Menu Guide:

Here is a report card based on my experiences… clearly I really love Uchi based on the shear number of things I have tried.  I can’t wait to try everything on the menu.  You can follow along on the Uchi menu for your location.  (Austin UchiAustin UchikoHouston UchiDallas Uchi)

  • uchivice ($12): A- (A play on ceviche, often a find on the Sake Social menu)
  • machi cure ($18): A (yum, especially if you like yellowtail.  The yucca chip allows you to scoop yellowtail and pear in one bite, like a perfect nacho)
  • hama chili ($18.50): B+ (the citrus overpowered the subtle taste of the yellowtail)
  • yokai berry ($17): A- (another ceviche type dish, the kale + salmon + pear makes for a great refreshing bite)
  • walu walu ($16.50): A+ (this cooked dish is my favorite.  Served with a spoon so you can scoop up some broth with the escolar, this white flakey fish melts in your mouth).
  • hamachi nabe ($18): B (this was good, but I have had it twice and wanted more yellowtail to eat with the rice)
  • jar jar duck ($28): B (slow-cooked pulled duck is juicy, but I thought it was missing flavor, this dish is served in a jar that is unsealed table side to reveal flavored smoke)
  • sakana mushi ($18 at uchiko): B+ (only get this if you have tried and love tom-yum soup (a Thai soup) because the tom-yum flavor is very prominent).
  • tempura walu (escoloar) ($6): A (simple tempura fried white fish, not too oily, and the fish is flakey and fresh tasting)
  • tempura kobacha (japanese pumpkin) ($2.50): A- (admittedly, I love almost anything tempura fried.  This one tastes a bit like sweet potato)
  • brie ringo ($9): A (a yummy bite if you love the apple and brie combo, available as a half-order if you ask)
  • karaage ($10): A+ (see above)
  • brussels sprouts ($7): A+ (a really good starter, fun to pop in your mouth and ridiculously flavorful)

Sushi/Sashimi

  • Sake Salmon Sashimi ($14): A+ (see above)
  • Sake Toro Salmon Belly Sashimi ($18): A (like the sake, but fatty)
  • Hamachi Yellowtail Sashimi ($18): A+ (The sushi pieces come with a touch of wasabi and soy already, so you can just eat it without fiddling around with the soy sauce)
  • Nasu Eggplant ($2.50): A+ (I love this earthy eggplant bite, the eggplant is soft but not mushy)

Makimono (Rolls)

  • Spicy crunchy tuna ($12): A- (the classic done well, fresh jalapeño adds something special)
  • Zero sen ($12.50): A+ (my favorite roll, the yuzu (East Asian citrus fruit) gives the roll a lemon-zest taste that is so refreshing.  The vegetarian version is equally good).
  • Shag ($14): B- (for me, sun-dried tomatoes, salmon and tempura just did not go together well.  Unless you really like sun-dried tomato, I think it overpowers the role).
  • Mustang ($12): A (the classic done well again, served with a sauce slightly thicker than soy sauce).
  • Bond ($10): B- (again, don’t love the sun-dried tomato, and I do not prefer the soy paper on this roll, it ruins the texture).
  • Ham and Eggs ($10): B+ (gets points for creativity, but pork belly rolled in rice…just too heavy for me).

Desserts

  • tobacco cream ($9): A- (the name can throw you off, but if you like chocolate, the moose and ice cream is delicious, and the blueberries add some tart).
  • fried milk ($9): A+ (see above)
  • peanut butter semifreddo ($9): A (tastes like PB&J minus the bread and much more sophisticated.  I got it for free on one of my visits just because (yep, that’s service)).
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s