My fiance and I just got back to Seattle from our long weekend in Austin. After reading gushing review after gushing review we were most excited about our Sunday reservation at Uchi. We both left feeling very unsatisfied, not really understanding what all the fuss is about.
Let me preface this review by saying that this restaurant is doing alot of things right as ambiance, design and customer service were all exceptional. Our expectations were definitely pretty high and we can be over-critical sometimes, but nothing even came close to wowing us the entire meal.
We ordered something from nearly every section of the menu:
- We started with a Sunomono seaweed salad that was lacking acid, but was overall very good.
- Next we had the Maguro Sashimi and Goat Cheese from the Cold Tastings. It was a well conceived dish, but the tuna was bland and everything was overpowered by the goat cheese.
- Next was the Omarru Ebi off of the daily specials menu with Lobster, Apricots, Garbanzo Beans and Basil. This dish first grabbed our attention because we love each of these ingredients separately and couldn't figure out how they would work together. The dish came out and absolutely nothing worked!!! Everything was thrown together on a plate with a red wine vinaigrette. The lobster was incredibly bland and watery and none of the flavors were harmonious. Not only was this dish a trainwreck, but it was way overpriced at $22 with 5 little pieces of clawmeat!
- Next up was the Avo Bake which was a surprising highlight of the meal despite the use of Krab. I realize we are crab-snobs from Seattle and that Texas is land locked , but I just don't understand why a restaurant of this caliber would resort to using fake crab. The flavors worked wonderfully though and we were both surprised by the creamy texture of the baked avocado.
- Next up was some sushi, a couple pieces of Unagi and the Zero Sen roll with yellowtail, avocado, crispy shallots, yuzu, roe and cilantro. Once again this roll contained some of our favorite ingredients, but was just so "middle of the road" void of any flavors that popped or even stood out. The unagi was fine, but was served with this balsamic glaze that just overpowered the eel completely.
- Throughout the meal, our waitress asked us how each dish was and we were honest with her saying many of the same things I mentioned above. When she arrived with the dessert menus she said that she was very sorry that we did not have a fantastic experience and that dessert was on them. We thought this was a very nice gesture and the cracked black pepper sorbet with fresh strawberries piqued our attention. The strawberries were delicious, but the sorbet misfired on a few points. The consistency was very grainy and we could barely taste the pepper. We understand that pepper needs to be used delicately, but it barely showed up. We also wish we could have gotten some of that balsamic glaze back from the unagi as it would have worked wonders to bring this dish together a little bit.
The bill came and we respectfully paid our $100 + tax and tip and left. As we were leaving, one of the managers stopped us and asked if we were the couple from Seattle who weren't impressed with our dining experience. We told him our thoughts and he said he was sorry and offered us a $25 gift certificate to come back next time we were in town.
We were very pleased with the exceptionally high level of customer service, but did we just come on a bad night or are we missing what all the buzz is about? Our meal was on Sunday night, which I know is notoriously the worse day to eat sushi, but we were expecting alot more.
To people that have eaten here before and rave about it: What happened here? Are we just over-critical snobs or was it an off night? We appreciate your feedback!