Managed to get in last night (Friday). Showed up at about 4:30 (they open at 5), and was one of the last to get a table for the night.
Simply put, this was one of the best restaurant meals I've ever had.
About eleven plates flew past us over the course of the evening. This included two very nice comps from the kitchen. The beet salad with yogurt and fennel pollen was a surprising combination of flavors, and ended up being my wife's favorite dish of the night. If I had to pick, I would say that the cuttlefish with apple, baby chard, and tomato broth was my favorite. We both enjoyed the grilled mackerel dish, as well as gorgeous nigiri bites of beef tongue, anchovy, and sea bream. The pork belly was another standout. I'm generally averse to fish with dairy, but I got talked into the salmon roll with yogurt cheese and did not regret it. Though they didn't have a couple of things we were interested in trying (mussels, rabbit), I feel like I had an amazing meal. This is a really unforgettable experience, and I will definitely be back.
I just dined at uchiko last evening and wanted to report in on my experience.
I dropped in at about 8:15 on a thursday, and was able to grab a bar seat, though the place seemed pretty packed. I ended up ordering the 5 course bar tasting menu. My pre-food drink was a glass of their sake ("bride of the fox"). This was probably the second time in my life I've had sake, and I really enjoyed this one. There was some nuttiness from the rice, but nice fruit to balance it out.
Since they've just been open, all their tasting menu dishes are off the regular menu. I guess this is understandable. They said they planned to do special dishes for these menus once things settle down.
I'm a (very) recent convert to meat and fish eating, so keep that in mind while reading this review.
1. kai jiru : Really great flavor in the tomato water. very well balanced acid, but the mussles seemed like an afterthough. I don't think they contributed much to the dish. Still very good overall.
2. cobia sashimi: One of the two best dishes of the night for me. The marinated cucumbers, pickled ginger and sauce were perfect. The cobia had great texture but not much flavour.
3. "chicken" karaage : the "chicken" was actually half of a cornish gamehen, with a chili sauce coating. The coating was a little too spicy for me, and the gamehen itseld didn't taste of anything special. The yuzu dipping sauce was quite tasty though. Probably the weakest dish for me.
4.take nabe: One of my two favorites of the night. basically a japanese risotto with mushrooms, a great seafood broth and a soft poached egg with bonito flakes on top. The rice and mushrooms were perfectly cooked, and the broth had great umami, and a bit of sweetness to balance the whole dish out well. The only complaint was that all the broth was absorbed in a few minutes and the dish felt very congealed after that.
5. Corn dessert: Nice concept, and pretty good flavour wise. I felt that there was a bit too much salt to rate it a great dessert. I really loved the corn caramel though.
So overall, as far as food goes, the meal was pretty good. My issues were more with the size and pricing of the meal. All the dishes were the full menu portions - which was too much for a tasting menu. I ate less than half of (3) and (4), and was still stuffed by the end.
The pricing seemed a little extreme to me. The menu was $69, which I computed was almost exactly the same price (just $3 less) than ordering each dish off the menu. What incentive is there to order a tasting menu then? I'd say cut the portions, and drop the price by 10-20 dollars.
Service was pretty attentive and descriptive. The staff was able and interested in answering all my questions (I was sitting at the bar). The only flaw was water service; I had to ask for a glass, and then ask for a refill explicitly everytime (even though it was obvious that my glass was empty).
I've been twice now, and I have to admit that I'm unimpressed. At half off, I'm happy to eat at Uchiko, but at full price, I'll head on down to Uchi.
- the design and size of the restaurant on the inside are a big improvement over Uchi
- the large bar area actually gives people a place to wait
- the presentation of the dishes is excellent
- what's with the bland white exterior of the restaurant?
- it's loud. just as loud as Uchi, if not louder
- about 2/3 of the dishes I've had on both occasions were over salted by a wide margin. other people in my party commented on this both times, and this is my main complaint that I hope is corrected soon
- many of the combinations completely overwhelm the flavors of the fish so that you end up tasting very little of the fish. i haven't found this to be true at Uchi.
- the price. not good enough to justify the high price at this point.
After working through most of the menu, my favorite dishes were the Bacon Sen and the grapefruit & corn desserts. None of the fish oriented dishes really did much for me, but if I had to choose one, I'd get the Cobia Crudo.
801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Wow! We got there before 5 yesterday and there was already an hour wait for walk-ins so we happily sat at the bar. Having never been to Uchi, I didn't know what to expect. Highlights for me included:
- The textural contrast of the tuna on watermelon
- The rich salty/sweetness of the bacon sen
- Wagu with peaches, nuff said
- All of the different components of the fried milk were great, especially the little nuggets of fried milk.
The lowlight for me was the yakitori. It was my boyfriend's favorite but it was forgettable for me. The sweet corn dessert was delicious and interesting but it was brought out at the same time as the fried milk so it kinda took second stage. I didn't notice a problem with noise, but we were sitting cozily at the bar anyways.
I'm tempted to head back before the grand opening just to try the rabbit and quail egg.
Oh.My.God. Went last night around 5:15. Waited an hour for a two-top, but that was to be expected. So, so good. I'll mostly let the photos speak for themselves; wish I remembered the names of everything. Started out with some unfiltered cold sake, moved on to the "Pan-Am," which is a watermelon-rosemary-sake cocktail. Had tempura onions and eggplant to start. The eggplant was accompanied by a chili sauce chock full of sliced garlic and it was outstanding. Moved on to a couple of rolls: Jiiro, which was smoked salmon, preserved lemon, and yogurt, and Avofry, which was a coconut fried onisan roll. Moved on to the Cobia Crudo, which was kingfish with pickled cuke and jalapeno (SPICY). Finished with two desserts: Sweet Corn Sorbet and Fried Milk. The corn dessert is one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth; the polenta custard was so creamy, dense and, well, "corny," and the combination of that with the vanilla bean tasting corn sorbetto and "caramel popcorn salt" on top and the delicious cookie (ok, "tuille") and crumbly bits on the plate were just too much. The other dessert was great too (and was more visually stunning) but the corn really did it for me. It was one of those meals where you just can't stop grinning, and you are so full, maybe in a little pain, but just don't care.
And my bill was THIRTY-ONE DOLLARS plus tip. My god. Run, don't walk!
ate here last night as a walk in. tried about a dozen items. Holy crap. As good as Uchi but a little different.
Don't have time to take you through the whole shbang, but I'd recommend just putting yourself in the waitstaff's hands. Like at Uchi, we just tell them to keep bringing stuff till we are full.
Do get the dish with egg/fishflakes and the one with the coconut milk crepe/prawns/chili sauce.
sushi was all world class. They sure didn't need to give half off, they were firing on all cylinders and were packed.
801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Went last Friday and can recommend the following...
ao saba - norwegian mackerel dish in the Grill section that is different from one listed online. came with huckleberry, juniper, and black forest mushrooms. this really was amazing. mackerel was grilled to perfection with crispy skin and moist flesh. the sweet piquancy of the huckleberry sauce played nicely with the fish, and the juniper flavor was subtle (almost unnoticeable) which i preferred. the mushrooms were quite delicious as well, seared very nicely
coconut milk crepe - uchiko's take on a vietnamese banh xeo, in the Agemono section. the crepe definitely wasn't like an authentic egg-crepe, it was more doughy, which one of our companions Didn't like. ours came with blue prawns instead of lobster as listed online. the nuoc mam (fish sauce) was delicious, had a hint of a hot and sour element in it. eaten as lettuce wrap with fresh herbs, this was very refreshing i thought.
ika yaki - cuttlefish was good, but is really good when you assemble the perfect bite. not the same as listed on website in the Hot section. this one had sorrel and mint in it. the mint really made it i think.
hiramasa yaki - amberjack had a really good combination with the dried apples, in the COOL section. sorry, don't remember much else, but i Did like it...
sweet corn sorbet - i've had this before at uchi and really liked it both times. everything on the plate has some element of corn to it (corn sorbet, polenta, corn meal sand, etc)
bacon sen - i was told that this pork belly dish was amazing, but they had run out by the time we had gotten there... :/
Order the rabbit with the poached egg. It's on the left side of the menu. It is FANTASTIC. I went twice this past weekend and almost ordered it again the second time. But I had to stop myself since I wanted to try some different stuff. Everything else is wonderful, but the rabbit is a showstopper.
Also, I heard so many employees rave about the Tobacco Cream dessert. At that point I couldn't resist trying it, but it didn't wow me like I expected it to based on all the comments. Instead I'd have to recommend the corn dessert. It was really a perfect dessert and ended the meal beautifully. (I also got to try the chevre dessert. This one is a close second to the corn dessert. It's bold with the flavors - chevre and balsamic vinegar in a dessert? But pure genius. Try it if you aren't looking for sweet and want to be wowed.)
We went on Thursday and it was really fabulous. the tuna and watermelons with cilantro was out of this world and the hasuma or asumo (or something like that) roll was also amazing. The wbyumom (steak with peaches) was good, but not off the charts - stick to the sushi and fish.
overall we were very impressed with the whole experience.