Uchi, South Lamar, Austin

Uchi means the inside; the interior or house in Japanese. Tyson Cole is F&W Best New Chef 2005 and James Beard Award Winner and has groomed Paul Qui of Uchiko, a Top Chef Texas competitor and winner. We were rooting for Paul the entire show and we are thrilled he won.

Both Chef Cole and Chef Qui have garnered tremendous positive feedback and stellar review over the past few years. Cole’s restaurant is a red house and is hidden behind the forest of bamboo and Uchi’s well-lit sign. Our Uchi meal was stellar and made us look forward to watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary of Jiro Ono, one of the master sushi chefs in the world, even more.

The illuminated sushi bar was very inviting.

Our server (who went to college in Boston) carefully guided us through the menu, offering his suggestions and every item he added to our tasting we were blown away by and expanded our palates. He mentioned that Uchi’s fish is flown in to the restaurant multiple times a day from all over the world, which ensures freshest product.

The ambiance was red, gold and florals with interesting light fixtures and scones.

We started the meal with a 375 ml bottle of Takara Sho Chiku Bai Nigori for $15. The unfiltered sake had hints of nuts and coconut cream soda and is great with korean bbq ribs, pork and even is great as a dessert sake.

The miso shiru miso soup, tofu, scal lions and ocha zuke green tea broth, white rice, seaweed were both fresh and warming. The miso soup had slivers of mushrooms, which gave the broth and extra layer of meatiness.

The Hama chili baby yellow tail, ponzu, thai chili, orange supreme was so delicious. The silky smooth baby yellowtail tasted amazing with the citrus notes and the chili packed some heat. This is clearly a signature dish of Uchi.

The Maguro sashimi and goat cheese bigeye tuna, pumpkin seed oil, fuji apple brought familiar flavors of sweet apple with goat cheese into a truly special dish.

The Walu Walu, oak-grilled escolar, candied citrus, yuzupon and myoga was also tasty with warm escolar and the sweet candy jellies.

The textured crudo sea bass, orange oil, garlic, black pepper and citrus vinai grette was also super fresh, flavorful and light. I wanted to sop up the orange oil and citrus sauce.

The Machi cure smoked baby yellow tail, yucca chips, asian pear, marcona almonds, garlic brittle was one of our favorites. The crunch from the lightly fried yuca, sweetness of the peat and nutty buttery flavor of the almonds were fantastic and balanced the smoked yellowtail.

Our server suggested a sushi roll, the Hotate, spicy scallop, avocado which was fresh and rich. Another favorite dish of the evening was the Hamachi nabe baby yellow tail, koshi hikari rice, farm egg, soy broth. The fried rice had bonito, bits of yellowtail and a fantastic melange of savory and umami flavors. This is a must get.

Our server suggested we try the sake toro salmon belly with a bit of salmon roe, ikura and the Shime saba norwe gian mack erel, a fish we rarely order. The sliver of sweet tomato and basil gave a brightness to the fresh mackerel.

Transitioning our meal towards the finale, we had the brie ringo tempura-fried brie, apple chutney and sweet potato crisp. The creamy, melted brie encrusted in tempura batter, but by the sweetness of the apple on the crisp was a great combination.

The denouement of our meal was a light lemon gelato with pistachios, shortbread crumbs and white balsamic. This was a captivating dessert, with beautiful yellow hues and was quite refreshing.

We have been spoiled by many delightful and pleasurable meals and Uchi is one for the memory bank. The ambiance was unique and comfortable. Each dish had such new and unencumbered ingredient combinations, but executed with clear restraint. The meal had such a thoughtful progression and was well-timed and skillful. Our server was knowledgeable, an expert at the dishes and was a great ambassador of the Uchi brand and perpetuated Tyler Cole’s halo effect. For the quality experience, we felt we should have paid double or even triple of what we spent. Uchi deserves every accolade and is one of the best sushi experiences ever had.

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