“What the Fearless Critic books and apps have that UrbanSpoon and Yelp don’t is a complete lack of bullshit.”
“I’ve spent years driving around with Zagat...but I think I’ll replace it with this Fearless Critic guide.”
–Leslie Brenner,
Dallas Morning News
Fearless Critic restaurant review
Austin
Food
Feel
Price
9.7
9.0
$60
Modern, Japanese
Upmarket restaurant

Hours
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

www.uchikoaustin.com

Seton Medical
4200 North Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX
(512) 916-4808
Uchiko
The apple falls just far enough from the tree in Uchi’s offspring

Thanks to “Top Chef,” Paul Qui is sitting on top of the world—and Uchiko diners are sitting in ninety-minute lines for his food. To be fair, those waits are nothing new, having begun in 2003 when Executive Chef Tyson Cole opened Uchiko’s juggernaut ancestor Uchi, a few miles south. The spawn bears the crest of a slightly newer, sleeker generation, having been built from scratch in a building with space-age curves. The inside is chic and subtly decorated to evoke the five elements. There’s room in the bar for waiting, or dining on cheap “social hour” specials between 5–7pm.

Uchiko’s most accomplished feat is that it offers a totally different experience from Uchi, all the while maintaining—even surpassing—the level of inspired perfectionism associated with the original. There’s a distinct Southeast Asian bent to this menu; garnishes on excellent nigiri tug the flavors south and westward from Japan. Underappreciated mackerel is paid its due with bluefoot mushrooms and a complement of huckleberry sauce, a wild blend of charred umami and tart notes. Loup de mer carpaccio is a spicy, puckery delight with myoga (ginger blossom) and Thai chili essence; mussels served chilled with tomato water and basil blossom accentuate their plump firmness. But the crowning achievement here may be beef tongue nigiri, whose tender meatiness is perfectly suited to the sweet, vinegary rice. Where has this been all our lives?

Service is among the best in Austin: professional, capable, and vigilant. The wine and sake list is as committed and delightful as the food menu. From beginning to end, this is an exceedingly worthwhile evening.

Comments (5)