Menu Selections: uchi salad, zerosen roll, spicy crunchy tuna roll, maguro sashimi & goat cheese, salmon with kale and asian pear, a special with mussels served on bone marrow, jar jar duck, hama chili, peanut butter semifreddo with apple miso sorbet...don't judge, it was a fat kid night.
One of my first sushi experiences was at the Austin location several years ago. At that particular point in time, I hadn't made up my mind about how I felt about sushi, until I sat at that sushi bar and found myself devouring every last piece. It simply left me with an insatiable craving for top notch sushi ever since. Set my standard.
First things first: reservations are highly recommended. Since this place is still fairly new and tremendously popular, wait times can be up to 2 hours for 2 people...and this is for the community table. I didn't mind waiting, however. They have a quaint front patio, complete with stones for the floor (be weary in heels, ladies) and low tables and chairs designed for lounging with a glass of wine. All very Feng-shui (I'm aware that's Chinese, but that's the word that comes to mind to describe). If you fail to make reservations, either keep in mind that it's well worth the wait, or, snag a chair at the sushi bar. In addition to the added entertainment of watching the chefs prepare your food, you can let them know directly what you prefer and let their judgement reign precedence.
The place is lively no matter what time or day you go (#hardtogetreservations, duh), but not just due to the crowd. There are what I like to describe as Jenga pieces indelicately placed amidst sensual red walls with classic black depictions of bonsai plants. The service is a top runner for the best in town (top 2). The waitstaff is extremely animated, knowledgeable, attentive, helpful...basically every word you can use to describe immaculate service. An added bonus is that the waitstaff periodically offers complimentary samples of tastings. This works out well if you're starving due to the long wait time for lack of a reservation.
The food was comparable to Austin's location but has more of a "Houston" influence. Everything was amazing but a couple dishes stood out for various reasons. The "salad" was actually lettuce pieces with a crunchy sprinkling intended to dip into a wasabi sauce. The extreme healthy version of chips and dips, but yet, it was fascinatingly addicting. The zero sen roll was by far my favorite roll; the clean, fresh flavor of the fish was perfectly balanced with the slightly tangy sauce served alongside. The maguro sashimi (big eye tuna) and goat cheese seem like an odd paring but they had one thing in common: they simultaneously melt in your mouth. The next dish that blatantly stood out is the "extreme foods" version of ants on a log. Mussels lined up on bone marrow still in a bone split in half. I don't typically eat meat on the bone, but felt I had to take one for the team and try it. Mussels-good. Bone barrow-I wanted to throw up in my mouth. In retrospect, it probably wasn't that bad, but the idea of it was revolting to me. The jar jar duck contained smoked duck breast with fried duck skin in a closed jar filled with rosemary smoke; it was visibly contained and released when opened. The duck was oh-so-tender and flavorful. And last but most definitely noted: the peanut butter semifredoo. It tasted as elegant as it was presented with an intricate chocolate "pretzel" placed on top, all drizzled with the apple miso sorbet. My new adult version of peanut butter and jelly.
All in all, the best sushi in town. Uchi hit every single aspect of a great restaurant and for this reason, it will continue to be difficult to make reservations for years to come. But I suggest you put this at the top of your to-do list.
Will I be back? Yes, on that never ending mission to fill my sushi craving.