The weekends are usually my “splurge” times. I eat worse. I drink more. I indulge. This past weekend, I did all the above. The dinner I’ll share was at Uchi (probably the healthier of my weekend choices). It’s a contemporary Japanese restaurant, some people may remember it being mentioned during Top Chef: Season 11 when Paul -who trained at the Uchi in Austin- won. Anyways, it was amazing as always. We didn’t have a reservation, but weren’t in a rush. We went early-ish and hung around the bar for an hour to wait for the table. My only real qualm about this place is that there is no seating in the bar. If you can’t score a place at the limited bar top you have to stand in a line, elbow-to-elbow with your drink. I really think they should extend the bar area out more and shrink the sushi bar some. You have to make reservations pretty far in advance (around three weeks) and I am seriously considering making reservations monthly and if I can’t go I’ll just find someone else to take my reservation. We had the 5-piece sushi sampler, the 5-course tasting menu, and a few different samplings of sake.
The Takara Nigori was our first sake sampling of the night. It was also the house sake, but it was our favorite. (always nice when that works out) I am not a huge sake fan, but when we were waiting at the bar I kept going on and on about how much I wanted the “neat drink in the little box.” It was really good and different. Not like your usual sake with that strong flavor. It’s a cold sake that is served in an overflowing shot glass in a cedar box. I think the overflow is supposed to represent generosity- which I am all for. You dump the sake into the box and drink from the corner. I’m not sure if Japanese protocol is to cheers from the cedar box, but we did… a few times. I couldn’t really taste whatever nuances the box added, but it was a fun touch.
The 5-piece sushi sampler was so fresh. To me there is bad sushi, good shushi, and OMG sushi. This was in the OMG rankings. Bad sushi is noticeable right away because of the overly fishy smell and taste, but OMG sushi is just so inexplicably perfect- delicate, cool and crisp tasting. The best sushi I have ever had has been at Uchi (the Austin and Houston locations are both great and Kata Robata. Both places are above and beyond all of other, typical strip center places. You would think raw fish is raw fish, but it’s so not true. The size was good, too. I hate it when it takes more than one big bite to fit a piece in my mouth. It just gets messy and kind of ruins the experience.
Theses are the few 5-Course tasting pics I snapped. After waiting at the bar for an hour, I really just wanted to dig in as soon as possible. The grilled walu walu (I didn’t get a pic, but happily devoured) is my favorite dish. It’s this meaty hunk of escolar in a salty, thin broth with candied citrus. Every bite was so complex and layered. It’s a must get. They have it on their social hour meny so that’s a good way to try it out, but honestly I haven’t met anyone – even picky eaters – who don’t like it. I really liked everything we had this time on the 5-course tasting. The only dish that was a little out of place was the – it had a strong bacon flavor and kind of killed your palate after all of the fresh, smaller courses. We finished it all off with the fried milk for dessert. Milk done three ways, and three was not enough. We were practically licking the plate to get every bit of chocolate, sorbet and peanut powder.
Because the sushi sampler and five-course tasting weren’t quite enough and the boy loves anchovies. We tried the boquerones (spanish anchovy) sashimi. It was a little salty for my taste (which is always my reaction to anchovies no matter how many times I think it will change) but the boy loved them. So I’m guessing if you’re an actual anchovy fan and not just a person who thinks they like anchovies you’ll appreciate it.
Long post short, I can’t wait to go back in a few weeks. I also can’t wait until dinner tonight. Planning on playing around with this teriyaki recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet. Maybe using it as a marinade for grilled tofu or salmon. Then today’s dinner will be tomorrow’s teriyaki quinoa salad bowl.