What is in this article?:
- Fine Dining awards: Uchi
- A communal atmosphere
Chef Tyson Cole opened Uchi ihn 2003 to local and national acclaim.
A communal atmosphere
Those lucky enough to grab a seat dine in a casual bungalow space dressed in a red floral wallpaper that — even though Cole hated at first and wanted to take down — customers love. The decor strikes “a strategic balance between high design and casualness” that looks amazing but not self-consciously done, said Sharpe, adding, “People feel like they’re in a cool place, but are not intimidated by it.”
Guests sit at communal tables and choose from a regularly changing menu of fresh fruits and vegetables, and fish flown in fresh each day from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. They then share dishes created by not one but two James Beard Foundation Award winners for Best : Southwest — Cole in 2011 and Qui in 2012.
Mini masterpieces include the Shag Roll, a mix of salmon, avocado and sun-dried tomato that is rolled in a soy paper, tempura fried and served with squid-ink sumiso sauce; and Jar Jar Duck, a combination of smoked and confited crunchy duck cracklings, sweet kumquat confit and pickled endives served in a jar that, when opened, wafts rosemary smoke.
Much of Uchi’s success also stems from the creativity of Qui and Speer, who Cole hired for his pastry skills but who now directs food at all three restaurants, Cole said.
“What separates us is the way our food is created and presented,” Cole said. “Our servers are all trained in talking about the food, and everything we make is shared plates that are chopstick friendly.
“The more dishes I can create to get people to try, the more fun they are going to have as part of the dining experience,” he said. “We just try to create an amazing dining experience every day.”
Cuisine: contemporary Japanese and sushi
Average check: $57 at dinner, including beverages
Average weekly covers: 1,700
Square feet: 2,700
Menu sampler: Hama Chili, with baby yellowtail, ponzu, Thai chili and orange supreme; Bacon Steakie, with pork belly, watermelon radish, citrus and Thai basil: Lemon Gelato, with pistachios, white balsamic and candied lemon zest
Chef and owner: Tyson Cole