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What to try at Uchi

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Dave in Dripping Springs Mar 24, 2008 10:44 AM

Hey all,

Going to Uchi for a second time, for my birthday this year (no holds barred!). Just trying to find out what dishes/rolls (I am a huge Roll fan - especially Musashino's -, so let me know!) that folks like.

Thanks!

D

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  1. Bababooey RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Mar 24, 2008 11:46 AM

    While a HUGE Uchi fan, I've never been a fan of their rolls. Just not very inventive. The ones I have had were good, but rather pedestrian in composition.

    Other dishes I reccomend are the Maguro w/Goat's Cheese; the Crudo is usually very good; Hama Chili is really good. I love the Bacon Steakie too - pork fat rules! Last time I went they had a "Rack of Rabbit" which was phenomenal! Their hot daily specials are well executed with great ingredients, so I'd definitely try something from the daily menu...

    Enjoy and report back on what you get!

    1. i
      ieathereforeiam RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Mar 24, 2008 11:56 AM

      just get the tasting menu. then you don't have to decide anything.

      15 Replies
      1. re: ieathereforeiam
        amysuehere RE: ieathereforeiam Mar 25, 2008 06:32 AM

        Do not recommend the tasting menu. Will report later.

        1. re: amysuehere
          amykragan RE: amysuehere Mar 25, 2008 07:59 AM

          How was your birthday dinner?

          1. re: amykragan
            amysuehere RE: amykragan Mar 25, 2008 08:32 AM

            Had its extreme highs...and extreme lows. We decided to go the ten-course with wine pairings. Pop felt the experience as a whole was worth the extreme price, but we both felt the wine pairing was a complete rip off. I think we would have enjoyed it more if we had just ordered wine/sake as we went along.

            First, let me say they should take the cork off the menus and put them on the walls/ceiling. That place is WAY too loud. Conversation was almost impossible. Crowd was young and hip. Obviously, there is no shortage of young, wealthy, and hip in this town. Something that struck me as odd was how many babies/children under six were in there. They obviously have more money to blow than I do, and it kind detracted from the "specialness" of the occasion for me...not that we could hear the children anyway...

            On to the food.

            I won't go into each and every course (unless you want me to), but here are the highlights/lowlights.

            Highlights:

            Surprisingly, the Amuse of grape salad, mint vinaigrette on toasted rye was an unexpected blend on the tongue. A really good start.

            Okay, a quick commentary before I go on. In my mind, a tasting menu should take you on a journey; should continue to elevate you to a crescendo, and then it can end there or lighten to a whisper ending. Okay...continuing.

            The next two dishes were excellent and continued the journey in an expected and delicate way. Seafood was amazingly fresh and gentle to the palette.

            The next dish blew me out of the water. Seared Maine diver scallops, smoked char roe, arugula, grapefruit coriander confit and green peppercorn vinaigrette. Interestingly, the scallops were not seared on both sides, but cut in half and seared on one side to a carmelled golden. Extremely flavorful and an amazing blend of sweet/bitter/salty/savory. I think Chef Cole was brilliant to cut the scallops in half, thus ensuring a perfectly done meat. This was the stand out dish of the evening.

            Next came the halibut cheeks and the mushroom dish, both wonderful.

            Then the wheels began to come off the cart.

            While the yellowtail dish was good, it wasn't nearly as put together as the previous dishes and the flavor wasn't as full. Still good.

            Then came the mackerel, and it just wasn't my cup of tea. I'm sure it appeals to someone, just not me. It's totally on me and not Chef, as I'm not a fan of that much ginger.

            Next was a HUGE low point in the meal, and a pity as it was the second to last dish and left a big impression on my feelings afterwards. The Foie gras mousse with crunchy cocoa nibs, pan forte, currants and pickled blackberries was inedible. Literally so salty it was completely awful to everyone at the table. My husband is a salt-a-holic and wanted to spit it out. Obviously no one had tasted the dish before it went out. I commend them for keeping foie gras on the menu (and I have had wonderful foie gras before), but this was so poorly executed, I feel if this is normal, they should immediately take it off the menu.

            Dessert may have been fine, but our palettes were completely ruined to the taste.

            All in all, I enjoyed the experience. I loved the "Iron Chef" feel of each dish coming out so artfully plated and the involved, knowledgeable explanations of the dish from the waiter. However, I feel I would have enjoyed the "bang for the buck" more if I had just ordered off the menu. I doubt I'll go back, even though the seafood was exceptionally fresh, just because of the noise factor.

            1. re: amysuehere
              amykragan RE: amysuehere Mar 25, 2008 10:12 AM

              Sorry that your experience ended on a down note, but glad you had a good brithday and some exciting dishes with your family. I have only been to Uchi once and it was quiet, but we were there VERY early. So good to keep in mind how loud it can get.
              Thanks for the review.

              1. re: amysuehere
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                ieathereforeiam RE: amysuehere Mar 25, 2008 10:26 AM

                yeah. should have said don't get the pairing. not worth the coin. all in all it sounds like the tasting was good. the food anyway. and it isn't that pricey for what you get without the wine.

                1. re: ieathereforeiam
                  amykragan RE: ieathereforeiam Mar 25, 2008 10:29 AM

                  I didn't see the tasting menu on the website. I think you said it was 10 courses, what is the charge both with and without wine?

                  1. re: amykragan
                    amysuehere RE: amykragan Mar 25, 2008 10:51 AM

                    Okay, don't hold my feet to the fire on the cost, as pop paid for it, but as I recall it was somewhere + or - the $150 without and an extra $40ish with, which doesn't seem bad. However, the first glass of wine lasted past the scallops, so we had to supplement which by the end added to the bill.

                2. re: amysuehere
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                  shan RE: amysuehere Mar 25, 2008 10:32 AM

                  We did the tasting menu about a year ago and while the dishes were different, the experience was about the same. It was a little too hipster for my tastes. The clientele seemed more interested in being seen in the right place with the right people with the right accessories than helping create an enjoyable dining experience.

                  We had about 2 excellent dishes on the tasting menu, but then several dishes were misses as well. The hits were either fish or sushi on the tasting menu but when the dishes moved away from seafood they weren't as good. The husband has agreed to only go back in the future if we only order off the sushi menu because of the difference in quality.

                  1. re: amysuehere
                    amykragan RE: amysuehere Mar 25, 2008 11:44 AM

                    Definitely doesn't seem worth it. I would have expected a wine pairing with each course and if at least 2 dishes weren't good for either of you, I would rather order a la carte.
                    But I'm glad you checked it out and gave us a heads up!

                    1. re: shan
                      aqn RE: shan Jul 13, 2009 10:22 PM

                      "It was a little too hipster for my tastes. The clientele seemed more interested in being seen in the right place with the right people with the right accessories than helping create an enjoyable dining experience."

                      You are completely correct of course. It *IS* hip and trendy. Unfortunately, that's the rub: a restaurant with great food will eventually raise its prices (because it can), which attracts some elements of the see-and-be-seen population (the ones who buy Porsches with automatic transmission :) ), which turns the place into a "hipster" place, which eventually deters the very crowd that brough the restaurant to fame in the first place.

                      Fortunately for me, 1. Uchi maintains its standard regardless of who's paying the bill and 2. I'm old and gray enough to not give a sh*t about who else is sharing the same air with me as long as I can enjoy my food. :)

                      1. re: aqn
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                        ieathereforeiam RE: aqn Jul 14, 2009 12:51 AM

                        I'm pretty excited to see the Uchi gang fulfill their potential over the next year or three- for them and us.

                        1. re: aqn
                          rudeboy RE: aqn Jul 14, 2009 08:09 PM

                          aqn - you don't look old and gray from your picture. I haven't been to Uchi yet.....but was considering taking my sister there for her birthday dinner this weekend or early next week. Now, I'm just totally confused and I'm not sure if I should ever go there...or maybe I'm missing out on the most wonderful experience. HEELLLPP!

                          1. re: rudeboy
                            amysuehere RE: rudeboy Jul 15, 2009 08:21 AM

                            RB, you'd be fine at Uchi. I think you're word-wise enough to see what menu offerings will be good and which to avoid. Keep in mind it's VERY loud! It's like eating in a kettle drum with a gaggle of teenagers.

                            1. re: rudeboy
                              aqn RE: rudeboy Aug 7, 2009 01:36 PM

                              rudeboy: Sorry if this reply comes too late to be useful for you.

                              For "traditional" sushi i.e. nigiri zushi (fish/meat/stuff on a chunk of rice), sashimi, fish/meat/stuff by itself with VERY little condiments, or rolls (traditional or seaweed outside, or new or seaweed inside), I recommend Musashino. In Austin, it can not be beat.

                              For "nouvelle cuisine" vaguely-sushi style stuff, Uchi is the place. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have had very little nigiri zushi and rolls at Uchi so I can't say anything about those, but the "entrees" do credit to the creativity of Tyson Cole and his sous-chefs.

                              Finally, I am really old and gray. Not *LOOKING* old and gray is one of my greatest blessings! :) See those glasses I'm wearing in my pic? They're old folkes' reading glasses. :)

                        2. re: amysuehere
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                          Carter B. RE: amysuehere Mar 25, 2008 05:12 PM

                          Sorry you were disappointed. We've done the tasting course once and were blown away by all the dishes but one. I really enjoyed the variety and tastes of the dishes. I don't remember anything as crazy as your foie dish which is a shame it came out so salty.

                  2. k
                    kimberlyzoe78 RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Mar 24, 2008 03:37 PM

                    My husband and I are HUGE fans of the Hot Rock appetizer.

                    1. m
                      mari0727 RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Mar 24, 2008 09:24 PM

                      My favorite rolls are the mustang and the shag. I also enjoy the Hot Rock Appetizer

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mari0727
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                        Dave in Dripping Springs RE: mari0727 Mar 27, 2008 01:13 PM

                        dang. Maybe I should just go back to Musashino, which is my favorite in town. I just wanted to try another place. bummer.

                        1. re: Dave in Dripping Springs
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                          wwiggins RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Mar 27, 2008 03:07 PM

                          Uchi is still one of the best meals in Austin, despite all the requisite hating and teeth-gnashing. Want to know a secret? Go on the first Thursday of the month, and go early. Everyone is on South Congress and Uchi is uncharacteristically uncrowded on that night. Always check the specials, and don't miss the opportunity to try the Maguro sashimi and goat cheese, it's one of my favorites.

                          1. re: Dave in Dripping Springs
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                            televiking RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Mar 27, 2008 03:53 PM

                            Definitely try this place - it may have the rare miss, but my experiences there have been outstanding. Sushi is excellent, bacon steakie divine, and the foie gras I had there was one of the finest things I have ever had the fortune to taste.

                        2. r
                          ridgeback RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Aug 8, 2009 08:52 PM

                          My wife and I went to Uchi Thursday night and it was sensational. We agreed on a favorite - the Walu Walu - grilled escolar with candied citrus. We ordered off the menu, perhaps 8 courses including hot and cold as well as nigiri and rolls. 2 glasses each of cold sake. Total was under 120. There was one item that was a miss for us but they took it back and removed it from the bill, as well (without our asking). It was not only a sensational meal but great value for a meal of such high quality.

                          1. luckyfatima RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Aug 10, 2009 11:08 AM

                            I went to Uchi last Wednesday. We ordered the tempura salmon roll, beef hot rock, soya bean skin spider roll, wagyu beef short rib, and foie gras nigiri.

                            The salmon roll and spider roll were pedestrian fare that could have just as easily been found at a low-end conveyor belt sushi place. Not special at all. The beef hot rock was also just a total gimmick. The beef had way too much (sea?) salt flakes on it, we ended up brushing them off. There was no searing to brown, it wasn't special. The ponzu sauce to dip wasn't exciting either. If those items were all that I had ordered, I would say the place was highly overrated and lame and never ever go back.

                            However...the wagyu short rib was...magical. Possibly one of the best things I have eaten in my life. Sooo beefy and flavorful, so tender, seared to perfection, rare in the middle, a miso sauce lacing it for extra umami oomph. It was such an experience to eat the stuff. Absolutely amazing. If you go to Uchi...you MUST eat this.

                            The foie gras nigiri was equally beautiful. What a dish. Pan seared duck liver was perfect, warm and dripping luscious duck fat on to the tiny cake of sushi rice below. Such and amazing combination. We ate two orders.

                            1. a
                              Austinness RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Aug 11, 2009 09:19 PM

                              Uchi is one one of those memorable meals. If you want to do the tastings, just look at the daily menu and pick out what you want. I am a big fan of foie gras but was disappointed with the dessert effect of it. Personally, I think whipped foie gras goes with bread. Having candied, rich blocks of buttery foie gras without bread is just a little too much. But overall, it's worth it. I have been there and had rolls, which were always good. The tastings are where it's at though. The combinations of fish and citrus and other tastes are so unique and delicious.

                              1. m
                                MidTexHorn RE: Dave in Dripping Springs Aug 18, 2009 08:26 PM

                                Tried Uchi for the first time a couple weeks ago on a Saturday night for my son's 21st birthday. We got there right when they opened to avoid the line and were able to get right in without the typical long wait. The place filled up quickly, so I'd consider the early arrival on a weekend night if you don't have a reservation almost a must do.

                                The verdict? Outstanding! One of my top meals ever. I think it joined my top three with The French Room in Dallas and Picasso in Vegas. My wife who likes the idea and look of sushi but can never bring herself to eat the raw fish was downing everything in sight. The flavor combinations were so good and unlike anything I've had at other sushi places. At one point I literally licked the plate after checking to make sure no one was looking.

                                I recommend that you stick to the left side of the menu (small appetizer plates), particularly the Cold side. I think we tried everything in that section and it was all awesome. Also recommend the daily specials. Other fun stuff was the taco pops (baby grilled octopi on a stick) and the beef and scallop hot rocks - pretty standard stuff but fun and tasty. I'm not a big fan of uni (sea urchin), but the presentation of the Uchi Shots with a piece of uni in the bottom of a tall shot glass together with a quail egg yolk topped off with sparkling prosecco was a pretty cool little taste treat. Agree with others that the rolls are pretty standard, but to me all rolls are pretty standard and I've never had much use for them other than as a belly filler. Desserts were light and tasty, but not spectacular.

                                We ate for three hours and frankly overdid it, but we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. We paid for it in the pocketbook, with the total including two bottles of mid-priced wine, 2 or 3 small bottles of sake and several beers coming in at around $125/person. This was about as much as you could spend there I would think, unless you went for really expensive wine or the tasting menu, because it seemed like we tried over half the menu. We ate and drank A LOT! I think you could get out of there for $40-50/person if you don't overdo it or don't have a huge appetite. One note - they do not have a full bar, only beer, wine and sake.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MidTexHorn
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                                  MidTexHorn RE: MidTexHorn Aug 18, 2009 08:58 PM

                                  One other note on the whole "too hipster" discussion. Yes it is very popular and as a result is crowded and a bit noisy. Yes, this means you are going to see a number of people who are just there for the scene. That said, it wasn't nearly as hipster as I was expecting and have seen in other cities at "hip" spots and you would be doing yourself a serious disfavor as a food lover if you skipped this place just because you don't like that kind of scene. The food rules here, no matter how hip the scene. Man that fish is fresh!

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