uchiko

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.

Shishito peppers
We ate a ridiculous amount of food to the point where at one point I just stopped.  First out of the kitchen was spicy grilled shishito peppers with a fiery sauce.  Fred started to hiccup immediately.

Edamame
A new twist on edamame.  Grilled whole soybeans tossed in olive oil and sea salt.  A total wow.  I am not sure I will do steamed every again.

Oysters
Oysters were in the house.  We tried four different types.  Can’t recall where they were all from but each oyster had a different sauce based on its size and flavor.  Excellent.

Hama chili
This is from the cool tastings section of the menu.  Hama chili.  Thinly sliced yellow sashimi with a sliced thai chili and orange sections.  The combo of heat with citric is delicious.

Kale
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.

Scallops
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.

Tuna goat cheese apple
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.

Onions
We tried to tempuras.  I am partial to onion rings and these were amazing.  Very light panko crust with shots of red pepper flakes dipped into a white soy.  Really good and light.

Eggplants
The other tempura was thin sliced pieces of eggplant that were light and almost as thin as a potato chip.  Dip that into a sweet chili sauce and you are in heaven.

Fried chicken
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.

Coconut milk crepe
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.  

Uchi salad
In the Greens category we had the uchi salad.  Hydroponic baby romain dipped into an edamame jalapeno dipping sauce.  Nothing to write home about. 

Beets
Square sections of roasted golden beets with a skyr yogurt dripped over the top with some bitter greens and honey.  A nice side dish and veggies are always needed to round out the meal.  

Squid
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
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. 

Niman bacon
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. 

George roll
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

Crunchy tuna
Crunchy tuna.  I didn’t even taste this, too full.

Hamandeggs
Ham & eggs.  I had high hopes for this but just was too much going on.  Katsu pork belly, green tomato and espelette served with a farm fresh egg for dipping on the side. 

Garlic
Big eye tuna with chorizo, fried almonds and grilled garlic.  Didn’t touch it.

Tempura salmon
Fried tempura salmon roll with sun dried tomato, sumiso and a spicy sauce. 

Tiger cry
Tiger cry.  Grilled wagyu steak, yuzu kosho, toasted rice and cilantro.  Didn’t taste this either. 

Boquerones
I did try some sushi.  Boquerones.  How could I not?  Interesting.  I might prefer a boquerones doused in olive oil with other boquerones and piece of bread smothered with tomatoes like they do in Spain. 

Hamachi
Hamachi with a pickled shallot and a slice of jalapeno.  This was really perfect.

Unis
Uni.  Sea urchin with basil and meyer lemon.  To me, this is like dessert.  A really great way to end the meal but no…we had to try the desserts.

Sweet corn
Sweet corn sorbet with polenta custard, caramel salt and lemon.

Tobaco cream
Tobacco cream.  Chocolate sorbet, maple budino ( weird texture ), huckleberries cooked in scotch.

Chever fondant
Chevre fondant.  Tomato sorbet, Sicilian pistachio croquant.  Tomato cracker too.

Fried mlk
Fried milk.  Chocolate milk, toasted milk and iced milk sherbert.

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!