Birthday dinner at Uchiko!

We had dinner at Uchiko for my birthday. There’s no other place I’d rather go for a special occasion. Executive Chef Paul Qui and Chef/Owner Tyson Cole made it a memorable culinary event for us.

We started with some of the specials on the menu that night:

Kusshi Oysters With Fish Sauce Sorbet, a touch of sweetness really highlighted the oysters’ cool brininess. I thought there was sugar cane juice in there, but Paul said it’s sugar. I wonder if sugar cane juice, maybe reduced some, would work even better. Thinly sliced cilantro stems was an inspired addition.

Sunchoke Dashi, rich velvety creamy “dashi” with shaved spring vegetables (carrot, zucchini, and watermelon), arugula, noble sherry, uni bottarga:

Seared white fish, with cherry tomatoes, crisp shallot chips, in fish sauce with Thai chili, in a classic Vietnamese style:

Smoked scallops, olive oil, radish, cherry tomatoes, potato chips, fish sauce, Thai chili. Smoked scalloped is a good deal firmer than fresh scallop. I loved the texture, the smokiness. The tang of the radish, the fish sauce and the Thai chili completed the masterpiece:

Wagyu Rib-eye Carpaccio: smoked wagyu rib-eye steak, truffle oil, fried brussel sprout leaves, micro shiso, with a “fritter” that has a molten quail egg yolk in the middle. This picture does not do the dish justice:

While waiting for the next course, our sushi chef, Angela Majko, plied us with our usual “regular favorite”: boquerones zushi.

Somewhere along the way, T. ordered one of Uchiko’s popular cocktails, the “Larkin”, named after one of Tyson’s daughters. It’s sparkling wine with a sprig of grilled thyme and cured lemon. What an amazing combination! The woodsy grilled thyme was lovely in concert with the lemon.

Then Paul brought some battered fried frog legs, on a bed of lemongrass and torn peppermints, seasoned with fish sauce. Frog legs, before:

Frog legs, after 🙂 :

Tyson came by with his “special” for me: saba (mackerel) zushi topped with uni, vinegared shallots, and jalapeno. Saba and uni is a new combination for me, and is yet another example of the creativity that’s running amok at Tyson’s restaurants! I would have never thought in a thousand years of pairing saba with uni. The combination is amazing! The uni’s creamy sweetness plays well with the saba’s firm texture and strong flavor.

Tyson said he “challenged” Paul to do for us a version of adobo, a Filipino pork dish. While waiting for that, T. couldn’t help herself and ordered a boquerones sashimi from Angela. T. saw Angela prepared one of those earlier and thought it looked great. (Oh, I should mention that we sat at the bar, as we always do.)

Paul’s “adobo” was our last savory dish, and I must admit, I’m not a fan! 🙁 I suppose even Mozart must have flubbed a note now and then! Roasted peppers and fried Swiss chard accompanied the rich fatty pork belly. I think a stronger sour note in the sauce would probably mesh better with the rich fatty pork and the roasted peppers.

Our dessert had to be quick ’cause we were pushing our time to leave to go see Cirque Du Soleil’s Dralion at 19:30. But even so, the small, “impromptu” dessert of corn sorbet topped with uni powder was kickin’:

And, we did not leave empty-handed: pastry chef Philip Speer, whose daily dessert we have never failed to sample each visit, sent us on our way with fresh baked cookies: dried cranberries, with strong hints of orange: