Long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a young chef named Tyson Cole, who dreamed of owning a restaurant where he could serve his cutting-edge, Japanese-influenced cuisine to people who were eager for something new. With a little luck and lots of hard work, it became a reality in 2003. Back then, a new, inquisitive food writer was thankfully assigned to review the newly opened restaurant for the Austin Chronicle, publishing a glowing account of its adventurous, superfine cuisine in November of that year. Early in 2004, a certain well-known food writer released a list of Austin’s Top 50 Restaurants of 2003, listing Uchi somewhere around #44 and writing a short blurb about a chicken salad sushi roll. Soon after Tyson was named one of America’s Best New Chefs of 2005 by Food and Wine magazine, said local food writer forgot about the chicken salad and named Uchi as his #1 restaurant. Tyson and I still laugh about it.
Now that he is a major nationally recognized rock star, he remains the humble, funny young chef I befriended in ’03, and has surrounded himself with amazing talent to take his cuisine to the next level, as is the case at Uchiko. Lucky, lucky me, I was invited to an open house for a “show-and-tell” kind of happy hour where Tyson, Executive Chef Paul Qui, and Pastry Chef Phillip Speer prepared bite sized treats as they explained about each dish, and answered any question anyone had about preparation, technique, you name it.
Here are some of the things we sampled that night:
Armed with a gift certificate and wanting to try what we previously had not, we returned for a full dinner last Sunday. Paul was at the bar so we just let him feed us. Among many other wonderful choices, he sent us these:
All these were accompanied from selections of one of Austin’s most interesting wine lists, curated by Supergirl Sommelier June Rodil. Seriously, if you have not yet been to Uchiko, you are missing out and messing up. In a couple of weeks we will be returning to celebrate my birthday along with my friend Harri who is coming from Finland just for the occasion. I can’t think of anything that could top that.