100 Favorite Houston Dishes 2015, No. 13: Machi Cure at Uchi

The Machi Cure at Uchi, made with smoked hamachi, fried yucca chips, Asian pear and Marcona almonds.
The Machi Cure at Uchi, made with smoked hamachi, fried yucca chips, Asian pear and Marcona almonds.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

Phaedra Cook is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes of 2015. It's a collection of personal favorites that is also indicative of Houston dining. It's a scene where a vast range of dishes coexist: highbrow and lowbrow; local and international; cheap and expensive; modern cuisine and beloved tenets — and everything in between.

I always forget that Uchi’s staff jokingly refers to the Machi Cure as “Japanese nachos.” All I ever think about is that it is one of the most absolutely delectable happy hour dishes in Houston.

If anything, the long, shatteringly-crisp strips of yucca are more reminiscent of fried plantain chips with a more neutral flavor. That’s all the better to compliment the slices of applewood-smoked yellowtail, or hamachi, that the dish is named for.

There are other fun elements that add texture and interest, like a generous scattering of Marcona almonds, a golden raisin here and there and slices of sweet Asian pear. The Machi Cure is one of those dishes that adeptly balances salty and sweet—and the cured fish is the veritable definition of the mysterious “fifth flavor,” umami.

The $18 full-size dinner portion is big enough to share with friends but a selfish-sized serving is a mere $6 at happy hour. Add a $3 sake and you can call me a happy camper.

Take heed: happy hour at Uchi only runs from 5 to 6 p.m. and spots in the bar area are so coveted that diners line up outside 30 minutes ahead of time. The deals on Uchi’s high-quality fare are so good that it is time well invested.

Uchi, by the way, has another dish in our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2015, and it's in the top ten. It's one of only three restaurants that landed two dishes each in the countdown. 

The List of Top 100 Dishes of 2015 So Far:

No. 14, Rabbit Loin at BCN Taste & Tradition
No. 15, Smoked Fried Chicken at Prohibition
No. 16: Bone-In Pork Belly at Killen's Barbecue
No. 17, Hangover Burger at Hubcap Grill
No. 18, Kanpaccio at KUU
No. 19, Hunter's Beef at Himalaya
No. 20, Brisket at CorkScrew BBQ
No. 21, Chicken Fried Steak at Frank's Americana
No. 22, Chicken Chicharrón at Piqueo 
No. 23, Mole Verde at Cuchara
No. 24, Butcher's Cut at Underbelly
No. 25, Morning Thali at Pondicheri
No. 26, Pho Ga Dac Biet at Pho Ga Dakao
No. 27, Veruca Salt Cake at Fluff Bake Bar
No. 28, Seafood Demi-Tower at Julep
No. 29, Shrimp & Pork Dumplings at Fung's Kitchen
No. 30, Fried Chicken & Waffle at The Breakfast Klub
No. 31, Risotto with Veal and Parmesean at Mascalzone
No. 32, Burnt Ends at Southern Goods
No. 33, Tom Kha Gai at Kanomwan
No. 34, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake at Vic & Anthony's
No. 35, Pozole at El Big Bad
No. 36, Bacon Mochi at Izakaya
No. 37, Nasi Lemak at Banana Leaf
No. 38, Make Your Own Gyro at Helen Greek Food & Wine
No. 39, Spicy Blue Cheese Burger at Alamo Drafthouse
No. 40, Pizza at Dolce Vita
No. 41, Grilled Shrimp at La Grange
No. 42, Duck With Two Moles at Arnaldo Richards' Picos
No. 43, Stuffed Pepperoncini at Anvil Bar & Refuge
No. 44, LH Gumbo at Holley's Seafood Kitchen & Oyster Bar
No. 45, KG's Double-Brined Cast Iron Chicken at Harold's
No. 46, Ceviche Mixto at Andes Café 
No. 47, Sunday Gravy at Liberty Kitchen & BRC
No. 48, Tonkotsu Ramen at Tiger Den
No. 49, Charcuterie at Kris Bistro
No. 50, Cauliflower Steak at Backstreet Cafe
No. 51, Telur Balado at Rice Bowl II
No. 52, Green Curry at Asia Market Restaurant
No. 53, Foie Gras Breakfast at Triniti
No. 54, Korean Fried Chicken at ToreOre at Super H Mart
No. 55, Bulgogi Bibimbap at BiBiJo Express at Super H Mart
No. 56, Vegetable Plate at Hugo's
No. 57, The Cured Plate at Revival Market
No. 58, Simply Grilled Fish at Ibiza
No. 59, Tonkotsu Black Ramen at JINYA Houston
No. 60, The Rancor Burger at The Petrol Station
No. 61, Heritage Sampler Platter at Rudi Lechner's
No. 62, Oxtails at Le' Pam's House Of Creole
No. 63, The 420 Slice at Pi Pizza Truck
No. 64, Frenchy's Fried Chicken On Scott Street
No. 65, 3 Pig Mac & Cheese at Urban Eats
No. 66, Pucchia Pugliese Foggia at Sud Italia
No. 67, Triple-Smoked Pastrami On Rye At Kenny & Ziggy's
No. 68, Fume Pizza at Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana
No. 69, Banh Mi Thap Cam at Café TH
No. 70, Caramelized Onion Soup at Mockingbird Bistro
No. 71, Milk Chocolate Stout Malt at Fat Cat Creamery
No. 72, Pork Ribs at Roegels Barbecue Co. 
No. 73, Carrot Pizza at Weights + Measures
No. 74, Jalisco Wings at El Big Bad
No. 75, Mussels at Cafe Brussels
No. 76, Cresta di Gallo at The Pass & Provisions
No. 77, Beef Fajitas at El Real Tex-Mex 
No. 78, Chicken Tikka Masala from the Tandoori Nite truck
No. 79, Chocolates at Cacao & Cardamom
No, 80, Hummus Supreme at Al's Quick Stop
No. 81, Red Oil Dumplings at Mala Sichuan
No. 82, Tex-Cajun Fries at BB's Café
No. 83, Mac & Cheese at The Oceanaire Seafood Room
No. 84, The Principal Burger at Bernie's Burger Bus
No. 85, Hunter's Honey-Roasted Duck at Brennan's Of Houston
No. 86, Fish & Chips at Good Dog Houston
No. 87, Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit at Blacksmith
No. 88, "Saucy Balls" At Brooklyn Meatball Company
No. 89, Perry's Steakhouse/Perry & Sons Pork Chop
No. 90, General Tso's Chicken from The Rice Box
No. 91, Eggs, Refried Beans, Hash Browns and Hugo's Sauce at 59 Diner
No. 92, Shipley Do-Nuts Plain Glazed 
No. 93, Housemade Bologney at Public Services Wine & Whisky
No. 94, Bo Luc Lac at Cheno's (formerly Chino's) Fast Food
No. 95, Combo #5 at Soto's Cantina
No. 96, Carnitas Salad At Chipotle
No. 97, Pickled Shrimp At Punk's Simple Southern Food
No. 98, Lobster Roll At Maine-Ly Sandwiches
No. 99, Chili-Cheese Coneys At JCI Grill
No. 100, Corned Beef Hash And Eggs At House Of Pies

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