801 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704-1509
Phone: (512) 916-4808
This past weekend I was given the honor of entertaining some British friends. Needless to say it was a weekend of overindulgence, indeed. And what better way to celebrate pure gluttony than to take a trip to Uchi on South Lamar?
This was my second trip to Uchi. I would probably be a more frequent visitor if not for the painfully long wait times for a table, the fact that they don’t take reservations most of the time, and my inability to exercise any self control in the amount of food I inevitably will order and consume.
But it was a Sunday night, and early at that. Just a little past 6, so for certain we could get a table, right? Wrong. The place was packed and there was a 45 minute wait for a table, so the four of us opted for a seat at the bar. I pouted and grudgingly sat down. Although sitting at the bar makes it more difficult for one to hear their friends, share food and you generally have less space, it is quite wonderful for ordering as you go (tapas style) and watching the sushi chef.
Our sushi chef was very talented, yet unaware of the menu. When I asked for vegetarian suggestions, he suggested fish (not vegetarian and a personal pet peeve), shrugged a bit, and perused my menu, pointing out the obvious salad. I mumbled a forced polite “don’t worry about it”, quickly snagged back the menu and decided this was going to be a DIY job. As it turns out, between the permanent and daily menu there were plenty of meat free items.
The three Brits in my company started with some uchivichi, Uchi’s version of ceviche, containing salmon, striped bass, tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, garlic and cilantro. The ingredients were so fresh and colorful, pulled from stylish containers displayed in front of us. I sampled yellow bell peppers and tomatoes, and they were even tastier than they appeared. After a few quick bites, I forgot all about not getting a table and the unknowledgeable sushi chef. And when the wine arrived, a delicious 2006 Domaine Pellehaut Sauvignon Blanc, I was actually smiling again.
At this point, the food orgy began. Edamame. Sunomono, a variety of seaweeds, Japanese cucumber and rasdish sprouts in ponzu. An incredible uchi salad of baby greens with carrot-ginger vinaigrette. A hakujin roll of fresh salmon and grilled asparagus for Sally. Maguro sashimi and goat cheese with cracked pepper, fuji apple and pumpkin seed oil for Chris with delicious and smooth goat cheese. Some Age Dofu (lightly fried tofu) for me. I wanted to try a bond roll. But at this point I was just too full, but yet the boys kept ordering and the food kept coming. And of course another bottle of wine as well. Everything was presented beautifully and not a dish went unfinished.
And then there was the star of the show. We ordered our coffee and teas and settled on the Jizake Crème Caramel with brown butter sorbet and ginger consommé. At this point all manners were abandoned as Sally and I recklessly dove in. Sweet sorbet, but without the grit of too much sugar, light ginger soft, and creamy incredible caramel.
The flavors in each dish were distinct and playful. Uchi focuses on creative combinations and blends of flavors in a crisp and unintrusive way, relying on natural flavors of high quality ingredients to do most of the work for them. Contrast this with the application of funky colored mayonnaise type sauces many other sushi restaurants use to try to achieve the same result and you will understand why it is so hard to get a table.
The shock of the bill woke me from my food high. However once the number was divided by 4, it didn’t seem so bad anymore. But regardless, it was so worth it.
I love this place. If I was an heiress, I would eat here every day. OK, well at least twice a week.
Laura - 10