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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Modern, Japanese
Upmarket restaurant

Sun–Thu 5:00pm–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 5:00pm–11:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


South Lamar
801 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX
(512) 916-4808
Prepare to be ruined for all other sushi

While Uchi certainly takes its liberties with Japanese cuisine, it does so with as much substance as style. Reservations are hard to get, but at least they’re now available to small parties; otherwise, watch your alcohol consumption during a long wait in the pleasant rock garden or tiny bar. Not an easy feat, considering the inspiring list here, in which cuisine-ideal, light-bodied Old World wines and microbrew sakes are plenty. The dim lighting, red designer wallpaper, and dark woods make everyone look and feel sexy, but the knowledgeable service is surprisingly pretense-free.

Despite its great success (including an Iron Chef spot, a Top Chef win, and all the attendant publicity), Uchi doesn’t rest on its laurels. It might vary in consistency as its chefs disperse to its two newer locations, but in hardly noticeable ways. The top-quality rice is wonderfully seasoned; fish is flown in fresh from Tsukiji several times per week—look to the specials page for what’s new and unusual; cuts are properly sized and shaped for ideal marbling, and garnishes bring out each fish’s unique flavor. The work’s been done for you, so forget the soy sauce and dispense with any hang-ups, as well as insecure orders (spider rolls). Order house-marinated baby octopus pops, heavenly uni, assertive grilled mackerel—and don’t miss some of the best and most imaginative desserts in the state. Come to expand your horizons, stay for the revelations.

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