So last night myself and several co-workers went to Uchiko. I had forgotten that Wednesday night is Top Chef night when I made my reservations which proved to be a unique experience as well. The restaurant was packed when we arrived for our 7:30 reservations. We were promptly seated and started our feast. At 9, the TV's were turned on and the sound was run through out the entire restaurant. You could only hear bits and pieces of the show.
We had the following items, some of which had to be modified due to a soy allergy (I know, it's a Japanese restaurant!)
Hama Chili - amazing is how I would describe this dish. The thinly sliced thai peppers really added to the dish. The miso was served on the side and when this was drizzled over the pieces really added to the dish.
Shishito Yaki - grilled shishito peppers with a garlicky sauce on the side. Excellent flavor imbued by the grilling of the peppers with rough sea salt and the sauce. Another hit at the table.
Jar Jar Duck - Interesting concept, several styles of duck in a jar with rosemary smoke. I did not like this dish and to me it was one of the misses of the night. The other diners ran the gamut of loved it to meh. Miss.
Brussels Sprouts - Very nice, table enjoyed it thoroughly.
Kaarage - fried chicken in a sweet & spicy sauce with pickled veggies. Chicken was fantastic as were the veggies. Enjoyed by all.
Avrofry - Ordered this one twice it was so good. Spicy and yet cooling in the same bit. Very good flavor. The spocy lemon sauce added to it greatly. Our soy allergy could not try as the roll was wrapped in soy paper. Too bad, it just meant more for me.
Pork Jowl - Wow! About all I can say about this dish. Flavors of Asia and Mexico in this one with the cinnamon, kimchee, etc. Table loved it. Perhaps the best dish of the night.
Crunchy Tuna - yellowtail sushi roll. Miss as the flavors of the fish did not stand up to the rest of the dish but what did come through was quite fishy....in an unpleasant way. Unlike the other items we ordered, people had to be encouraged to eat the last couple of pieces. Worst dish of the night.
Tiger Cry - Very good but would have liked more spice from the thai chili. This was universally agreed upon at the table.
Ham & Eggs - Interesting. Quite good but also quite subtle in flavor. Should have ordered at the start of the meal instead of towards the end as our taste buds had been pretty wasted by the time it arrived due to much bolder flavors and spices of the previous items. The sake didn't help much either.
P-38 - Same as the Ham & Eggs. Live and learn. Still good though.
Overall, the meal was very, very good. We got to watch Paul win last night's episode to rousing applause at the restaurant and enjoy a very good meal. It gave me an appreciation of his style and flavors and I can see why he is doing so well on the show. Aside from the 2 misses of the night, an exceptional meal with perhaps one of the best dishes of 2012 to this point in the pork jowl and the Hama Chili.
Must have been a blast being there on Top Chef night. We ate there last month, not one miss in the 13 dishes we ordered. Unlike you, we all loved the Jar Jar Duck, thought it was one of the best of the night. Agree that the Pork Jowl was one of the highlights. Kaarage was the best fried chicken ever. None of us are that into sashimi generally, but the Hama Chili flew off the plate.
Broke my Uni cherry on the good Japanese stuff that night.
I guess getting a table is going to be harder than ever now. I would hope we see his winning soup on the menu.
Go, Paul! You made me tear up watching you last night with T.C.
As an aside, wtf with TC making them cook outside all the time in the hottest summer ever in Central Texas only to do the finale in Canada...in the winter....outside?! Seriously...that just sucks all ways to Neptune.
They take reservations on opentable.com. Usually when I go, I make a reservation a couple days in advance and I end up getting a table at like 10:00 on a friday or saturday. If you show up an hour early and have a drink at the bar, you'll most likely be seated way before your reservation. I've also just gone on a whim with no res on a Friday and ended up sitting at the sushi bar with a friend. I think we were seated almost immediately.