October 13, 2009
So last night we were lucky enough to snag two seats at Uchi for a mini-omakase tasting. We started off in the courtyard with complimentary sake tastings and lovely little appetizers… tempura fried Brussels sprouts, pork belly skewers, tiny salad bites. We were able to hang out with our friends Teddy, Peter and Bill for a bit.
We really enjoyed the format of the dinner… it was a “social dinner,” and we sat at community tables with other guests. Justin and I sat with a group of gals from the design world who ended up being such fun (I shall now begin stalking them in an attempt to be initiated into their girl posse).
I did my best to jot down notes about each dish as it came out, but honestly, I can never remember all the details at Uchi… I just remember that everything is amazing. I also remembered to bring my camera, but forgot to bring my camera battery. Me and my camera have seriously been having some problems communicating lately.
Here’s a rundown of what we tasted:
- Winterpoint oyster with black pepper ice. Um, wow. The oyster was so incredibly fresh, with a nice spark from the cracked black pepper. It was served in a sake box, small and perfect and beautiful. (By the way, I think it’s time for an oyster night soon, as in half-priced oysters and champagne on Wednesdays at Parkside. Who’s in?)
- Black sea bass carpaccio. This was dressed with shiso (Japanese mint), ginger root blossoms, flying fish roe and yuzu. Holy moly, this was good. Of course the fish was fresh, and the citrus dressing was perfectly seasoned. Justin and I gave our chopsticks a workout trying to snag every last bite from the plate.
- Matsutake mushroom with sushi rice and nori, topped with shavings of white truffle. Chef Tyson Cole stopped by the table to shave the truffle over the dish, and even from where I sat, three seats away, I could smell its heady aroma. This. Was. Amazing.
- Curried kabocha squash soup with chile-peanut oil, cilantro, and grilled periwinkle (sea snail). Just give me a second to stop drooling as I remember this…. This was a tiny little square bowl of magic. The curry was so well balanced, and the creamy soup was a perfect foil for the spicy peanut oil. Top that off with fresh cilantro and bites of sea snail, and this was possibly my favorite dish of the evening. I wanted to use my fingers to scoop out the last drops of soup. (I didn’t, though, don’t worry.)
- Hollowed sea urchin filled with a sea urchin “porridge”… almost a risotto consistency… made with the urchin, matsutake mushrooms and mushroom broth, then topped with panko crumbs and Maldon sea salt. Oh, yeah, this was good.
- Whole roasted rainbow trout served with a dipping sauce of coconut-lemongrass puree, mint, parsley, cilantro, and sliced jalapeno, with a side of sliced cured persimmon. We all attacked the trout with gusto, cleaning it of every bit of meat, leaving a sad pile of fish bones when we were done. Justin even ate the eyes (you know Justin, always eating crickets or fish eyes or jellyfish… he’s weird like that). Dipped in the coconut sauce, the trout was amazing. We actually had two types of trout at our table, one white and flaky, the other pink and buttery. Both were delicious.
- Next we tried the spicy scallop, at the recommendation of our tablemates. We weren’t sorry… a nori cup filled with rice, spicy aioli, raw scallop and avocado. Delicate but delectable.
- Finally we had dessert. Most of the table decided to have some “French press action,” and ordered coffee as well. The dessert itself was beautiful… thinly sliced apple (cooked sous vide), a barley malt sorbet, orange yeast foam, honeycomb, coriander and a rye crisp. This is the only dish I was disappointed in. Several people really enjoyed this (and of course, I ate all of mine), but it was just a little watery, bland, unexciting for me. I either wanted more sugar, more salt, more flavor… or something much simpler. I would almost prefer a piece of fresh fruit to end the meal.
What I love about Uchi is that each dish is so singularly fantastic, and yet so small. It’s just enough for you to fall in love with it, and wish you could have one more bite… but not enough to get taste fatigue. Tiffany, one of our tablemates/new BFFs, told the waiter at one point, “Just keep the unbelievable coming.” And he did.