The last time I was in Austin, before this weekend, was four years ago at ACL. We had dinner at Uchi and have been talking about it ever since. Incredible sushi. After doing our share or Mexican and BBQ it was time for a change. We got a reservation at Uchiko, an off-shoot of Uchi, last night. A beautiful restaurant with 3 separate areas. A bar in the front, a large room with an open kitchen and two separate rooms in the back which are perfect for a private event. Very modern yet warm with dark browns and clean lines. The staff refer to the food and restaurant as a Japanese farmhouse.
The food is meant for sharing except for the pieces of sushi. One scan of the menu and you realize this is not your typical fare. A piece of Boquerones sushi just popped out at me. In Spain, you can eat boquerones every meal but I have never seem them on a Japanese restaurant menu and most definitely not sushi style.
Yokai berry. Bite size pieces of Atlantic salmon, flash fried kale, thin slices of Asian pear and yuzu sauce. Totally different. There is something about the cool bite of the pear mixed with all the other different textures and flavors that really works.
This was a gift from the chef. Might have been because I was taking so many pictures. Grilled scallops cut into pieces and served with tomatillo, black kalamata olives, bacon and black lime. The tomatillos mixed with grilled scallops made the dish almost smoky in flavor.
Hands down this particular dish was one of my favorites of the night. Maguro sashimi which is like a tuna served with crumbled goat cheese, thinly sliced fuji apple and doused with pumpkin seed oil and black pepper. Never thought about cheese with raw fish. The intensity of the apple combined with the cheese is always good but then with a piece of raw tuna on top is brilliant. I could have kept this entire dish to myself. Wow.
From this section, called Agemono, we also had two other dishes. Karaage. Half a chicken deep fried and cut into four pieces. Super crispy and juicy inside. Served on the side was sansho pepper, green apple and pickled watermelon rind. Personally I would have been happy to have a big bowl of the chicken just to pass around the table with wet ones for wiping our hands. A definite highlight.
This was interesting and really good too. Made me think that this dish was a nod to the local taco scene. A coconut milk crepe wrapped around fresh blue prawns, thai basil and mint. Their version of the Mighty Cone.
Now we move into the hot tastings. Ika Yaki. Small pieces of grilled squid, peppers, green apple, sorrel and red curry. Almost Chinese more than Japanese. It was ok. At this point I was feeling a bit full. Can't imagine why.
Hot rock was a good idea but not well executed. Small sliced of wagyu beef served raw with a light dipping sauce. Dip the beef in the sauce and toss it on the hot rock to cook. The liquid helps make sure the beef doesn't stick to the rock. Then dip again before eating. Felt a little bit like Benihana to me.
Ninjun Bacon took the cake in the Hot Tastings category. Grilled Kurobuta Pork belly cut into four large pieces and served with carrot and pecan soil. Don’t exactly remember what pecan soil is but the pork belly was extraordinary. Crispy, thick, flavorful. Would have been perfect inside a killer BLT sandwich.
We moved into the rolls at this point. More to share. Personally I am not a huge fan of rolls unless they are simple. All of these rolls were almost too creative. Too many things stuffed into a roll which makes for too much rice. George Roll. Smoked salmon, avocado, preserved lemon and a swatch of skyr yogurt
Here is my take on the desserts. All beautiful. Each one sounds so fascinating. Not great on the execution. Everything was very heavy handed so each flavor was so overpowering on its own that the mixture of them together on a plate didn’t work.
Bottom line, unbelievable meal. I rolled out of there and wondered why I don’t weigh 400 lbs because I should. Going out to dinner with my friend John is always dangerous because we feed off each other by ordering almost everything on the menu we want to try. Our attitude is why not order whatever we want and let’s see what they got. Takes me days to recover. Highlights were the fried chicken, tuna with goat cheese and apples, onion tempura and niman bacon.
Will I go back when I am in Austin again….absolutely!