By Bev Garvin, Foodable Contributor
For more than two years, food lovers in Dallas have salivated over the highly anticipated opening of the Austin-based Uchi Dallas location that opened this week.
The name Uchi translates to “house” in Japan. It got its name from the first location that was constructed from an old house they converted into the restaurant. Uchi has a second location in Houston and a more casual concept, Uchiko, or “child of Uchi," that’s also in Austin.
There’s a lot going on at Uchi Dallas, which will soon become home to another yet-to-be-announced concept that will be built upstairs. In keeping with other locations, the interior incorporates Uchi’s signature lighting, colors, patterns and textures that accent warm, rich woods with a simple and clean mid-century modern flair.
The Zen of Uchi Culture & Cuisine
James Beard Award winning Executive Chef Tyson Cole’s formula for contemporary Japanese cuisine has earned Uchi national recognition. His culinary philosophy incorporates traditional Japanese techniques and ingredients paired with local, seasonal ingredients for an approachable and playful menu that balances flavors in unique ways that delight and surprise.
Uchi incorporates Japanese culture throughout. “Every day we are learning and trying to get better," says Uchi Dallas Chef de Cuisine Nilton “Junior” Borges. "We’re constantly teaching, testing and training. We believe in a synergistic approach and we expect a lot from our staff. We want to train chefs, not cooks, because we hire the best people and believe in their skills. We know that by building leaders and mentoring them means we will be able to pass along our cultural philosophy to future generations and to keep people wanting to come here for something new and different.”
Navigating Uchi’s Menu
Each dish is a carefully thought-out work of art with humble understated elegance. Uchi sources the majority of its seafood from sustainable and responsibly sourced fish markets, shipped in fresh daily from markets in Japan and across the globe. In keeping with Japanese tradition, dishes are designed to highlight quality ingredients at the peak of freshness and seasonality. But what sets Uchi apart is its dedication to quality, collaboration and innovation.
If you’re new to Uchi, chef Borges recommends choosing one or two items from each category or letting your server guide you through menu options. You’ll want to explore the specials, too, which will feature fresh, seasonal dishes unique to each location.
“Each Uchi restaurant has its own look, feel and personality," says Borges. "The specials and social menus are areas where we try to innovate and push boundaries. They’re a collaboration of our entire culinary team and change frequently to celebrate fresh local ingredients of each market.”
The menu offers a wide range of options: a “Sake Social” happy hour menu (light bites at $4-$8), sushi, sashimi, soups, tempura, greens for vegetarians, and more. Even more, Uchi Dallas offers a 6- or 10-course Omakase chef's tasting menu.
“We’re really excited to be in Dallas," says chef Borges. "It's been a long time coming and it’s awesome to finally open to the public. We’ve had great culinary industry and media feedback during our training period, which has meant a lot to our team. We are grateful to be cooking, serving and just to be able to take care of our guests.”
No matter what you choose, expect each dish to be meticulously designed to strike a balance of flavors from hot, sour, sweet, salty, brightness, acidity and texture that ebbs and flows in uniquely unexpected and clever ways.
Uchi Dallas is open for dinner service seven days a week, Sunday thru Thursday, 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The dress is casual, walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended at www.UchiDallas.com.