You Had Me at Uchiko

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I was in Austin on business last week and, though it wasn't my first time there, it had been a while. When I visit a place I like to find out where the locals go. I spoke to this guy who mentioned his wife was a chef; he insisted Uchiko was a must. To be honest, I hadn't heard of the place before. I was intrigued.

I logged on to the website and found myself drooling and, yes, moaning as I read the menu. I'm a huge sushi fan, but this was so much more than that. Tyson Cole is the Master and Commander at Uchi, Uchiko's cool "big sister." Paul Qui is his Number One, directing the restaurant's second location, Uchiko, a more relaxed dining room.

Uchiko is located at N. Lamar and 38th Street. Once through the doors, you're greeted by a bustling space that is hip without being too trendy or stiff. Once the hostess established that this was my first time to Uchiko, I was handheld through the menu and dining experience, but in a good way.

I started off with a Larkin -- sparkling wine with grilled thyme and cured lemon, just a hint of sweetness that paired beautifully with everything I had. I teased my appetite with some thinly sliced tempura eggplant, then came close to tears after my first bite of the ham & eggs roll, a crisp pork belly center served with three different dipping sauces. I also had some oysters and a couple of beef tongue pieces -- oh, my, they were good.

Then, dessert, which is not always high on my list. But I kept hearing about the Fried Milk. This is their take on milk at various stages: a milk sherbet, fried pastry cream, chocolate milk mousse and toasted milk crumbles. When I built the perfect bite with a bit of everything, it tasted like corn flakes in malted milk. Unreal! It didn't last long.

Tyson Cole will be opening an Uchi in Houston. Can't wait.

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