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Houston Restaurants: Uchi

by Andrea on November 4, 2013

614156 Houston Restaurants: Uchi Houston Restaurants: Uchi

Japanese cuisine has become one of our staple favorites and we get especially excited when we find a restaurant that serves compelling dishes aside from just sushi and sashimi. So we decided to celebrate John’s recent birthday at the Houston outpost of Uchi.

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I should note that most of the exciting restaurant action in the Houston metro area takes place downtown or close nearby. We live a bit further out in the Energy Corridor, so when we want to get out and have a few drinks, we have to hire a taxi. We’ve been looking into some Houston hotels over that way so we can make more of a night of it and have fewer miles to trek home afterwards when we want to go out and celebrate a special occasion. Hopefully we can bring you some hotel reviews from the city in upcoming posts.

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Uchi was worth the journey, however, with friendly service and a huge menu of inventive dishes. We began with Uchi’s answer to nachos, Machi Cure. We ate this smoked baby yellowtail, yucca crisp, marcona almond, asian pear and garlic brittle concoction with our hands. The yucca crisps had a buttery, almost bacon flavor and the cool, succulent yellowtail complemented it perfectly, a sweet and salty delight that was the perfect start to our meal.

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After that came the Komorebi, with dayboat scallops, potato, tomato and a quail egg. We loved the large, juicy scallops (John’s favorite!) with tiny potatoes and a runny, delicious quail egg.

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Next up was Yokai Berry, with little morsels of Atlantic salmon, crisp fried dinosaur kale, Asian pear and yuzu. I’ve been obsessed with deep fried, crispy kale since first trying it at Fathom in Bar Harbor, Maine so I was delighted to see it appear on our table, slid in between pieces of delicious fresh salmon, sweet pears and tiny berries.

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Our last dish before the sushi rolls was the Bacon Tataki, which was composed of pork belly, black lime, cilantro, scallion and an espresso fish caramel. Who can resist pork belly on a menu? These generous chunks melted in our mouths and the only wish we had for this plate was more of the incredible sauce.

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Our Mustang roll was the first one to arrive, filled with freshwater eel, yellowtail, tobiko and avocado. Served with a generous helping of eel sauce for dipping, this is just the way I like my sushi rolls: simple, small and with my favorite kinds of seafood rolled inside.

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This was followed by Uchi’s California roll, with krab, avocado and cucumber. We made a mistake here and didn’t specify that we wanted the more expensive version, which is made with snow crab. This roll was nice but I’m sure we would have preferred the snow crab.

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The desserts at Uchi are as delicious as they look and so beautifully presented. We ordered the Lime Ash Sorbet with chocolate croquant, meringue and kefir lime, as well as the Peanut-butter Semifreddo, served with apple-miso sorbet. I’m not sure if they did this because of John’s birthday or they read my mind as I tossed between the lime ash and the lemon gelato, but when the desserts came out the Lemon Gelato with pistachios and white balsamic was with them, on the house. Every bite of these treats was heaven.

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John and I are huge Nobu fans and I think the rule we always have when we dine there applies to Uchi as well. The sushi rolls are delicious but I think there are so many incredible things on the rest of the menu to try that we never get sushi at these places. After all, one can find sushi rolls at any other Japanese restaurant. What Uchi is doing with their inventive cold and hot plates makes those dishes worthy of trying as many as you have room for. An exception here would be the fresh sashimi selections shipped to them directly from Japan and sold in limited quantities at the top of the specials menu. We missed out on those but were definitely intrigued.

Thank you to Trivago for making this post possible.

 

614156 Houston Restaurants: Uchi Houston Restaurants: Uchi

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria November 5, 2013 at 12:59 am

Hi there!
Thanks so much for visiting my blog.
Japanese food. Oh yes please.
I live in Berlin and in my opinion really good Japanese food is difficult to find. Most tend to be a combo of other Asian recipes but this looks absolutely delicious. Sign me up!

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inspiringtravellers November 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm

That surprises me! I thought Berlin was so diverse when we were there…but we didn’t seek out any Japanese restaurants. Good thing, I guess…

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Andi November 5, 2013 at 6:21 am

Yuuuum!!! Lucas won’t eat Japanese, so I have to wait until Alex is visiting for me to get some haha. Awesome pics! When I come to visit you guys you have to take me there!

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inspiringtravellers November 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm

John didn’t used to eat Japanese either but I kept making him go and now he loves it, haha

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Emily in Chile November 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Oooh, this all looks so good! I definitely fall into the trap of only thinking rolls and typical sushi fare when we go to a Japanese restaurant, but I know there’s more to the cuisine than that.

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inspiringtravellers November 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm

In all fairness, that’s usually all that’s on offer. We usually order sashimi and rolls but this isn’t your average Japanese restaurant.

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Heather November 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm

What beautifully presented dishes! I love how much pride Japanese chefs take in their work – each plate looks like a piece of art!

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inspiringtravellers November 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I know! I am constantly in awe of their knife work…

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Casey-A Cruising Couple November 6, 2013 at 12:46 am

What I wouldn’t give for some Japanese food right now! Everything looks so delicious and the presentation is absolutely beautiful!

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inspiringtravellers November 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Isn’t it? We’ll definitely go back…

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Agness November 7, 2013 at 3:58 am

It’s good for you guys to have such a lovely restaurant around. I’m the biggest fan of Japanese cuisine. Going to Japan to have some real sushi was on my bucket list and I crossed it off 3 weeks ago :). The food you were served looks so good. I would definitely try Yokai Berry as I love salmon.

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inspiringtravellers November 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I’m so jealous as I would love to try Japanese food in Japan – haven’t made it there yet though…

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Cathy Sweeney November 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm

I think a lot of people are surprised when they hear about some of the very cool, inventive restaurants there. Uchi looks like it would be perfect for the hubby. My favorites in Houston are the steak places. :)

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inspiringtravellers November 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I’m ashamed to say we haven’t gone to any steak restaurants here yet, Cathy…do you have any recommendations?

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Tamara (@Turtlestravel) November 24, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Wow! Everything looks so beautifully presented–as it should with Japanese cuisine I suppose! Honestly, we’re usually Japanese food-snobs and stick to what’s traditional for the most part (especially when it comes to sushi), but your post makes me feel we’ve been missing out. The Yokai Berry looks absolutely delicious, and I know the other Turtle would be all over the Bacon Tataki. We spent June and July in Houston for work, and found lots of yummy eats. We were surprised at the diversity, and enjoyed exploring different neighborhoods while we were there.

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inspiringtravellers November 25, 2013 at 8:21 am

There is SO much to do in Houston – we are just learning about all the different places to explore as we get out and talk to more people.

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