The PR machine behind Austin-based Uchi began beating the drums a little more loudly this week, even though the restaurant, which was first announced in May of 2013, still has no official opening date. A series of pop-up dining events were held Sunday and Monday in anticipation of a menu release that dropped late Tuesday. That event was held off-site on Exposition Ave.
Still, "We don't have an exact time further than late spring at this point," says a spokesperson for the much-lauded restaurant. The pop-up was held off-site because the Uchi Dallas has yet to secure a certificate of occupancy. When it does it will open on Maple Avenue, very close to the Stoneleigh Hotel.
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Not that some hype isn't deserved. Tyson Cole has a Beard award under his belt, as does Uchicko's Paul Qui, and the Austin-based restaurants continue to earn consistent praise. I'm not immune. My meal at Uchi made my list of top food memories in 2012 and when I go back to Austin, Uchi is often at the top my list.
The Houston location opened to similar praise, but then may have stalled. The Houston Press gushed about the restaurant, only faulting a single dish, but two years later the Houston Chronicle pointed to a restaurant that may be running out of steam. "Uchi remains a force," wrote Alison Cook in a Top 100 Restaurants guide that ranked Houston's Uchi down at 32, "but the parent company's expansion mode seems to have dulled its once razor-sharp focus.
That doesn't sound so hot.
Perhaps subsequent expansions come more easily and Dallas' Uchi will open up with strong momentum that carries it forward for years to come. Certainly, a menu packed with innovative sushi dishes, and desserts that could slow down time for this food critic, will capture the attention of Dallasites when Uchi first opens. To this point, the restaurant group has had our attention for nearly two years, without having served a single dish here in Dallas. It will be interesting to see whether that attention is deserved, or lasting, in the coming months.