Well we are back ladies and gentlemen, and just in time for one of the most anticipated Austin restaurant openings in recent history. Uchi chef Tyson Cole has opened up a second location, called Uchiko, at 42nd and Lamar (right next to the new TacoDeli location... could this be the most delicious corner in all of Austin??)
We had the chance to attend the pre-opening and sample some of the goods at half off. The overall concept of Uchiko is almost exactly the same as the original, just a completely different menu. So needless to say, as big fans of the original Uchi, we were very excited. When it came time to finally order, we really had no idea which way to go, so we decided to push all our chips to the center and order omakase. (Omakase is a Japanese sushi tradition, that translates to "It's up to you," and basically you are challenging the chef to give you his or her best stuff.)
I can definitely say that the two best decisions I have ever made in my life are: #1 Marrying Han, and #2 Ordering Omakase at Uchiko. All in all, we ate fourteen dishes, including two desserts. We will highlight each of our three favorite dishes.
#1. Eggplant Nigiri
So not that everything we had wasn't fantastic, but about 8 dishes in, I thought to myself, "I've really enjoyed everything so far, but I'm still waiting to be blown away. Ev
erything we've had has been an 8 or a 9. I know a 10 is coming, but I don't know when." Well the eggplant nigiri was my 10.
Both incredibly innovative and delicious, this dish is served just like regular fish nigiri, but with a sauteed slice of eggplant served on top of rice. The BBQ sauce is sweet and tasty and the eggplant is grilled slightly crispy, and tastes remarkably somewhat like fis
h only better. This is especially a boon to vegetarians or anyone else who doesn't like raw fish.
#2. Bacon Sen (Pork Belly)
So truth be told, I probably would have considered this my favorite dish, but saying pork belly is your favorite is like saying your favorite band is the Beatles. The pork belly itself was as good as you probably imagine it; crispy on the outside, tender and fatty in the middle. But the real kicker was the garnishes: apple puree and kimchi apples. Eating all three in one bite was a perfect trifecta.
#3. Kai Jiru (Mussel soup)
I put this one because it was the one I was most surprised by. At first glance it looks like a weird amalgamation of vegetables and seafood in a shot glass. Also the description of the ingredients was a little odd as well. "Tomato water?" But don't be fooled, this was as tasty of a soup as I've ever had. The mussels were juicy and tender and the tomato water broth ended up being an amazing compliment.
#1. Usagi Yaki (Rabbit Terrine)
(Yeah so that's my impatient fork in that picture above...) One thing you have to know about Han is that she absolutely hates gamey meat, but she not only loved the Usagi Yaki, she thinks she wants to start raising rabbits for meat now. Much like the Bacon Sen, the Usagi Yaki is delectable enough on its own, but the additions to the dish, quail egg and pureed peas, take it to an entirely different level completely.
#2. Lobster Gazpacho
Han was already won over with the huge hearty chunks of lobster, but the gazpacho broth was just as incredible; watermelon-y but savory with the added bite of cilantro.
#3. Jiiro (Locke Du Arte Salmon)
This was probably our favorite true sushi roll of the evening, simple but innovative. Salmon and avocado inside of a soy wrap, but topped with preserved lemon. Dip it inside the swipe of skyr yogurt on the side for maximum experience.
And of course a special shoutout goes to the desserts. Both of which were incredible and unlike anything we had ever had before.
The Sweet Corn Custard
Understand I mean this in the best way possible: this dessert tasted like they had an Iron Chef contest where the ingredient was Captain Crunch. Corn bread crumbles with polenta over vanilla ice cream. Pure amazing.
If the description of the Sweet Corn Custard sounded odd, I don't even really know where to begin with the Fried Milk. This was by far the most confusing but delicious dessert I have ever had. It was like eating a Picasso painting. Condensed milk deep fried, topped with ice cream and chocolate wafers. A MUST HAVE.