LAReview

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi spread
8.3

Uchi

JapaneseSushi

West Hollywood

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightBusiness MealsSpecial Occasions
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The first time we dined at Uchi, our server informed us the restaurant had something of a cult following. We didn’t think much of it—or at least until we posted one of their $30 crudos on social media. Our DMs exploded. Old classmates from high school chemistry demanded our thoughts. Bewildered, we asked ourselves, “What is going on? Who are you, Uchi?” As it turns out, this upscale Japanese restaurant from Austin (with seven locations nationwide and counting) is a big deal, even in a sushi paradise like Los Angeles.

Like many restaurants in West Hollywood, Uchi is expensive, with an unshakable sceney-ness that you might expect from this zip code. But, underneath all that, Uchi has the right mix of delicious food, sharp service, and electric atmosphere that you’d want in a splashy, special occasion dinner. Its more-is-more approach to Japanese food won’t satisfy every sushi purist, but you can expect a very memorable meal nonetheless.

Uchi sushi bar

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi Hama Chili

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi exterior

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi Kinoko Nabe

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi Hotate No Tataki

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi sushi bar
Uchi Hama Chili
Uchi exterior
Uchi Kinoko Nabe
Uchi Hotate No Tataki

Uchi is in no way low-key. It certainly isn't quiet. The moment you peel open the heavy front door, you’re hit with a burst of chatter and thumping music. This big, wood-paneled restaurant is a living, breathing beast, packed nightly with the neighborhood’s usual cast of characters: real estate agents, showbiz types, publicists plugging their clients between martinis. Every corner of this large space has a distinct energy, and where you sit ultimately shapes your experience. There’s the main dining area where the ambiance is at full blast, the quieter, more secluded front patio, and (our favorite) the sushi bar, where the meal begins with a drinkable amuse-bouche that’s different each time. Regardless of where you sit, though, you'll next be tasked with navigating the menu.

We say “tasked” because Uchi’s menu is a Texas-sized document. You could easily spend a good 10 minutes pouring over its many sections—“hot tastings,” “cool tastings,” fried dishes, sashimi, rolls, caviar, to name a few—and it took multiple visits for us to feel like we’d experienced a fraction of what this place offers. You can wing it and order a la carte, of course, or hand control over to your server who will curate a tasting menu based on your budget and tastes. You can stick to simple soy-brushed nigiri, or ball out with showy things, like wagyu slices you sear on a hot stone. Or you can just freeze up with indecision. But you shouldn’t, because nothing we’ve tried is a noticeable miss.

Uchi Gyutoro

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi Table Spread

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi Salad

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi interior

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi frield milk

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi Gyutoro
Uchi Table Spread
Uchi Salad
Uchi interior
Uchi frield milk

Our odd rule of thumb for ordering here is this: the more out-there and unexpected a dish sounds, the more likely it is to blow you away. The actual sushi is very good, if not quite on par with other sushi heavyweights in the area like Matsumoto and Jinpachi. Uchi’s nigiri are on the smaller side though, and besides that, we’d push you toward things like sweet sea bream coated with peppery olive oil, or the melty cut of gyutoro kissed with a blowtorch, rather than the more basic nigiri or rolls. Mostly, more creative dishes are the major highlights. Delicate salmon belly sashimi pops in a tom kha coconut cream, little nuggets of pork belly come painted with a sweet rose pepper gastrique, and smoked yellowtail arrives in little fried yuca boats that let you spoon the fish directly into your mouth. It can feel like the kitchen is flexing every muscle they have at once sometimes, but it works.

Where Uchi occasionally struggles, however, is consistency. It usually comes down to the smallest details, like how flavorful the kanpachi is that night, or if the bigeye tuna is served a little too cold to appreciate the fish. Most of these things are easily brushed off, but when you’re likely paying over $150 per person for dinner and drinks, it’s fair to nitpick.

Now that we’ve wandered through Uchi World a few times, the hoopla around this growing chain makes sense. It’s a maximalist sushi experience that offers whatever you’re looking for, whether that's an excuse to dress up, feeling like a who’s-who in a high-energy room, or just eating top-tier raw fish and tempura. And that’s no small feat for an out-of-town restaurant less than a mile from Nobu and Matushisa (godfathers of the genre). Next time you want to celebrate a promotion, birthday, or just the luxury of having disposable income, rest assured that somewhere within Uchi’s giant menu exists a great dinner that suits the occasion.

Food Rundown

Uchi Citrus Old Fashioned

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Cocktails

Like the food menu, Uchi’s cocktail list has range. There’s a beverage for whatever mood you’re in, and everything we’ve tried is pretty good: a bright and boozy citrus old-fashioned with yuzu bitters, a crisp “Nikko” martini that mixes gin with sweet aged sake, and big Spanish-style gin tonics that are dangerously refreshing.
Uchi Salad

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi Salad

The name is boring, the salad is not. These lettuce wraps (nearly tied with a seaweed bow) work as a light, refreshing start. Each bite is satisfyingly crunchy with sweet pickled daikon and puffed rice, and we like swiping each wrap through the tangy cashew pesto that’s definitely not pesto (more of a hummus?) but still very good.
Uchi Hama Chili

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Hama Chili

Your server will probably push this dish and you should take their advice. This light and fresh yellowtail crudo is elaborately plated but it’s simpler than it looks: just good quality fish in a pool of citrusty ponzu and sweet orange supremes. The thin slices of Thai chili on top give a nice surprise with zaps of heat.
Uchi Hotate no Tataki

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Hotate No Tataki

Some people dream of finding a pearl inside a clam, we dream of finding this scallop. The big ol’ mollusk is served on a giant shell for show. The slices are tender, sweet, and a little smoky from their sear, and the nutty vermouth butter sauce they’re floating in is even better. The strawberry XO spooned on top is a fun touch, but the flavor goes missing a bit.
Uchi Nigiri

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Nigiri

Since there are always daily specials to try, the sushi offerings at Uchi tend to differ each time. Here’s what we enjoyed: briney cured mackerel with a nice, clean aftertaste, subtly sweet sea bream with a brush of olive oil, and the torched gyutoro short rib that’s so soft and fatty it melts like pot roast in your mouth after two seconds. There's also a whole seperate list of dry-aged fish options that are good, but probably not worth the upcharge.
Uchi Kinoko Nabe

photo credit: Sylvio Martins

Kinoko Nabe

This rice and mushroom dish is one the heftier dishes at Uchi and a must-order near the end of your meal. It involves a mini tableside show, too, as your server mixes in egg yolk and black vinegar as the koshihikari rice crisps up in the hot bowl. The egg serves as a sauce, the vinegar cuts through richness, and every spoonful tastes better than the last as the rice sizzles.
Uchi Fried Milk

Fried Milk Dessert

Four different things are going on in this delicious dessert, and we try our best to get them all in one spoonful: soft vanilla ice cream on the verge of melting, crushed cornflakes, a salted fudge for some bitter chocolate, and tiny fried milk balls that burst with sweet cream when you cut into them. We’d be happy eating a big bowl of any of them on their own, though.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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