Open for about two months now, Uchi is a hot ticket. To secure a seat at this Austin-bred sushi spot, you’re going to need to book reservations about a week in advance. Without them, you’re not getting in without a long wait — unless you know how to outsmart the swarming crowds.
Arrive as close to 5 p.m. as possible and steal a seat at their wine bar during “Sake Social” hour. From this vantage point, you’ll have access to specials like $3 sake and “tastings,” such as their famed machi cure (smoked baby yellowtail, yucca crisps and Marcona almonds). It gets better. The wine bar is full-service, so the door is open to anything else you might want to order — including dessert.
The dessert list is enticing. Olive gelato, peanut butter semifreddo, lime cream — any one of pastry chef Andrew Lewis’ creations is likely to please the palate. Just try getting past the first item listed, though: “fried milk.” It’s sure to pique the curiosity of any adventurous eater.
You may be resting against the cool copper bar at an elegant Japanese restaurant, but this dish will remind you of childhood breakfasts eaten against the backdrop of Saturday morning cartoons. All on one plate, the smoothness of egg-shaped iced milk sherbet plays against the crunch of cornflake crumbles. Silky chocolate milk mousse contrasts with toasted chocolate crisps. Custard-filled, toasted pillows masquerade as elegant doughnuts, and a sprinkling of chocolate powder summons memories of sneaking spoonfuls of Nesquick as a kid. Each element is familiar in some way, yet the presentation is a unique experience.
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So where’s the fried milk? How does one even fry milk? “Fried milk” refers to those doughnuty little rectangles bursting with flavor. To make them, milk is used to make a custard-like filling, chilled, coated and fried. Tap its crunchy shell, and the surprise inside is revealed.
Paired with cold sake, the cooling qualities of this dessert will shelter you from the withering heat. The yuki no bosha, which gin lovers will adore, complements the dish without overpowering it. It’s a “limited release” item not listed among the specials, but it’s worth the upgrade.
In the laid-back atmosphere of the wine bar, set to the tune of Santogold and Notorious B.I.G., you’ll have no trouble making new friends. Saunter into one of the hottest restaurants in town and order dessert first and you’ll instantly earn the respect and admiration of your peers — except those sharks circling behind you at the bar as 6 p.m. nears. They just want your seat.
Uchi, 2817 Maple Avenue, www.uchirestaurants.com