This is pre-quarantine, and I just never got around to posting this post.
One does not remain a bachelor by taking on any commitment which is also why I only partially committed to trying Uchi only during their happy hour.
My biggest expense has always been on food, so I have no problem throwing down if I know what to expect because I can not afford a bad meal (or a K-town girl that I literally can not afford) in my life.
The naming game
Imagine an American restaurant named House (uchi/うち/ いえ), Wrestler (sumo), Drums (taiko), Theater (kabuki), or Water (mizu). Well, imagine no more because that’s how Americans name Japanese restaurants.
How deep are the Japanese roots
I think I might have been the only ethnically Japanese person in the place – When that happens, I feel I should get a free beer like when I see a Mexican in Taco Bell, we both add a visual endorsement to diners although any Asian in Colorado is often seen as Japanese, so there goes my chances at a free beer.
If it were Japanese, it would make sense to have your hashi/ohashi (chopsticks) sitting on a hashioki (chopstick holder)
Wow, where are they getting their myoga from?? It’s not easy to find, nor is it cheap even in Los Angeles. Regardless where they get it, I love when I see a chef make an effort to use actual Japanese ingredients.
Solid *fist bump*
Time for the close-up.
Time for more alcohol.
Ok, this is where things made a turn for the good because I really enjoyed this dish.
Except what part of this dish makes it Japanese? The black garlic tahini (Middle Eastern), spicy honey, pork belly, to the currants (btw, isn’t it strawberries and basil), to the pickled shallots? Nothing, but I enjoyed it, and when I saw it, I thought the black ingredient was a nori tsukudani (a seasoned nori paste made with shoyu, that I used to eat on rice as a kid), but naaawwww, “you’re wrong,” it wasn’t.
The menu uses a lot of Japanese words, but the preparation to ingredients are mostly just random ingredients and flavors, but that does not take away from the place because everything is properly prepared and tasted great.
One example of their menu items is their Sasami Yaki to the Suzuki Yaki (btw “yaki” just means grilled), both of these dishes are more on par with being a Thai dish due to the use of coconut milk to cilantro (SE Asian ingredients) – two ingredients not associated with being Japanese.
I could go on and on, but like I said before, I don’t think it matters because I bet it all tastes good, and if they need to market their restaurant as Japanese over being just Asian (Korean, Thai, Chinese, etc.), to get people through their door, have at it brah.
I won’t be “hitting it and quitting it” (unless you’re a K-Town girl).
If you do try fusion, I would say only about 10-15% of the “chefs” out there could do it correctly. The other 85-90% are hacks who just do not have the ability, and I place them in the con”fusion” category. Their inability or lack of understanding of the cuisine is what they end up trying to pass off as fusion.
In the case of Chef Tyson Cole and his crew in Denver, it is one of the very few restaurants that I think understands flavors. It’s unfortunately all too often that foam, gold flake, foo foo flowers, and over sauced and overdone food is touted as Japanese although, in the case of Uchi, I luckily did not have that initial experience.
Now, keep in mind, I only tried the happy hour menu after several happy hours of alcohol, but everything I had made me only want to try more… whisky and the rest of Uchi’s menu.