Try not to act too surprised when we tell you that Austin is one of our favorite places on earth. It is, after all, one of the greatest music towns in the world, and it's also a place where we can get ridiculous on all manner of delicious things to eat, like BBQ, specialty food trailers, and specialty BBQ food trailers. Throw in South By Southwest and Lake Travis (naked spring break party time), and you should get a pretty good feel for why we love it here. And just when we thought Austin was as Infatuation friendly as a city could get, we found Uchi, an adventurous Japanese restaurant that's winning James Beard awards and making us wish we owned property nearby. Who wants to sell us a ranch?
Uchi is a restaurant creation courtesy of Tyson Cole, a guy who we know little about, other than that he's one of the few people in Texas taking a unique approach to Japanese food and not relying solely on spicy sauce and dynamite rolls to do so. Tyson and his team fly in fish from Japan every day, and uses only the freshest of ingredients as a foundation from which to build extraordinary Japanese food creations. On the menu you'll find a varied selection of things that all sound incredible, like smoked baby yellowtail with marcona almonds and garlic brittle, and pork jowl that sits atop a brussels sprout kimchee. There's so much delicious sh*t to get into at Uchi that you'll need a few visits just to get a handle on what actually goes on here. The good news is that the restaurant offers a "Sake Socials" menu on weekday evenings, where you can try some of the best things from the kitchen for almost half the original price. And once you've had your fill of the goodness at Uchi, you can head to the nearly identical sister restaurant, Uchiko, and do it all over again with different offerings.
Ultimately, what we love most about Uchi is that it plays off of our affinity for restaurants like Nobu and Katsuya, but with a whole lot more balls than either of those places. And that's the way it should be. We are in Texas after all.
A delicious dish of smoked baby yellowtail, yucca chips, Asian pear, marcona almonds, and a crunchy and pungent garlic brittle. This is a must order.
This is a hot dish of pork belly that's been fried and topped with watermelon radish. If that doesn't appeal to you then we can't be friends.
I love yellowtail more than anything, and this baby yellowtail dish with Thai chili from the "Cool Tastings" section of the menu is slammin'.
All of the fish at Uchi is incredibly fresh, but make sure to take a look at the daily specials menu and talk to your chef. They'll point you to the real stuff.
The aforementioned pork jowl dish that comes served with an insanely good brussels sprouts kimchee and preserved lemon crème fraiche. This is what dreams are made of.
This is a fan favorite, and we almost passed on it because it's got sundried tomato in with the shrimp tempura, salmon and avocado. Sun dried tomato is the Rick Santorum of foods. Nobody really wants it, yet it's inexplicably popular among Midwesterners. But somehow this roll rises above that, and is pretty damn tasty. Order it just so you can say you did.
I love yellowtail, I love eel, and I love anything that's kind of riffing on my last name. Of course I'm gonna like this roll that combines all of those things with some avocado.