With the closing of ShinBay in Scottsdale, I have been eagerly searching for sushi of the same caliber. As luck would have it, we had plans to travel to Dallas for my college reunion, so I set about obtaining a coveted reservation at Uchi Dallas. Success was in the form of a 5 pm reservation on a Saturday. Five pm?? How old am I, right? But the timing turned out in our favor, as we pretty much just rolled on over to the restaurant after having spent the better part of the day “boulevarding” on the SMU campus.
To Uchi neophytes, Uchi is a Japanese concept out of Austin that is the brainchild of owner/operator Tyson Cole. As a student at the University of Texas in Austin, Cole started working in a Japanese restaurant as a dishwasher. He quickly developed a passion for the cuisine and, over time, dedicated himself to learning the language and the technical skills needed to complete an intensive traditional apprenticeship at Austin’s Musashino. He trained in NYC at Bond Street and spent time in Tokyo before opening his first restaurant, Uchi, in Austin in 2003. After opening a second sushi restaurant in Austin in 2010, Uchiko, Cole branched out into the larger, and arguably more saturated markets of Houston and Dallas, with phenomenal success. To be sure, this gaijin is not to be underestimated: Tyson Cole along with Nobu Matsuhisa are the only two sushi chefs ever named to Food & Wine magazine’s list of America’s “Best New Chefs”, Matsuhisa in 1989 and Cole in 2005. Plus, in May 2011, Cole received a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef of the Southwest.
Thus, it was with great anticipation that we settled into a cozy booth of the bustling Maple Avenue dining room. Even at 5 pm, this 172-seat restaurant was packed, turning anyone away who did not have the foresight to plan ahead for a reservation. Rafael was our capable waiter, and we placed our confidence in him, our only instructions were for him to choose his favorite dishes and sake, and to send things out in an order that made sense. An order of nigiri at Uchi is one piece, which helps save room to try many items on the menu. Plus, every piece is perfectly seasoned so there is no need for dipping in soy sauce or any other abomination (herein lies the aforementioned reference to the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which you must watch if you have not already). I personally love this type of meal, but some may find it challenging, and you know who you are LOL. Nonetheless, you can appreciate the simplistic beauty of the dishes, and I hope I have done a decent job giving you a snapshot of our experience. Kampai! xoM
PS We ordered and devoured the Brussels sprouts, but no one had to patience to wait for me to take photos 🙂 Suffice it to say, they were Ah-mazing.
2817 Maple Ave.
Dallas, TX 75201
One last note, check out the Uchi cookbook, which you can find on Amazon.com:
All photos by Marci Symington for texAZtaste.com, with the exception of the photo of the cookbook.