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A sizzling sneak preview of Uchi: Hot waiters and hotter food deliver on all the hype

A sizzling sneak preview of Uchi: Hot waiters and hotter food deliver on all the hype

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It doesn't officially open until Thursday, but on Monday night Uchi Houston opened its doors to media for a sneak peek at the space and the menu, and both are pretty spectacular.

I never made it to Felix, so I can't compare the space to its historic predecessor, but I like that as soon as you walk through the turret-like front door in the corner of the building, no matter where you go there's a solid view of the open kitchen and the spacious sushi bar.

 Forget the Buxom Betties slinging burgers and wings at Twin Peaks. Slightly scruffy guys and girls with pretty hair describing and handing out sublime bites? Now that's sexy. 

The red, floral-patterned wallpaper comes from the original Uchi in Austin, with the blossom-like patterns mimicked in the industrial-looking light fixtures. (The lighting is dim and somewhat gold-toned, so everyone looks mysterious and sexy.) There are also thick, rough-hewn wood banquettes that reference Uchiko and a sizeable community table with subtle koi patterns woven into the surface.

The only thing hotter than the buzz about Uchi and prettier than its interior design is the wait staff. Forget the Buxom Betties slinging burgers and wings at Twin Peaks. Slightly scruffy guys and girls with pretty hair describing and handing out sublime bites designed by Tyson Cole and filling up my wine glass? Now that's sexy.

I know, I know, but what about the food? I was expecting to be blown away, and I wasn't disappointed.

My favorite were the sushi rolls, including an inventive roll dubbed "ham and eggs" served with katsu pork belly in the center with a tiny yolk custard next to it, and a roll that paired juicy yellowtail and roe with an orange slice and ponzu for a refreshing and bold citrus flavor.

There was a machi cure that the servers described as an "Asian nacho," with smoked baby yellowtail, Asian pear, a marcona almond and a touch of garlic on a crunchy slice of yucca. I really liked the mix of flavors and the subtle homage to Felix. Also popular were the skewers of grilled pork belly (which was more meaty than fatty) topped with green onion, fish caramel and ultra-fine bonito flakes.

While each bite was impressive, the desserts by Philip Speer were showstoppers, including an apple miso sorbet that led with an intense flavor of peanut butter dust and a trio of milk (with chocolate) served fried, toasted and in an iced milk sherbet.

In a nutshell: Believe the hype.

Uchi officially opens on Thursday. Eater reports that weekends are already booked through February (all the better reason for an indulgent weeknight escape).