WITH A VAST MENU THAT MIXES JAPANESE TRADITION WITH MODERN EXPERIMENTAL CUISINE, UCHI DENVER PLATES A MULTITUDE OF PERFECT BITES.
Fried milk served with salted fudge and ice cream is a standout on the dessert menu at Uchi Denver. PHOTO COURTESY OF HAI HOSPITALITY/UCHI DENVER
Hot rock Australian wagyu. PHOTO COURTESY OF HAI HOSPITALITY/UCHI DENVER
a wall of crystal blocks and reclaimed red bricks filters Colorado’s sunshine. PHOTO COURTESY OF HAI HOSPITALITY/UCHI DENVER
BEFORE TACKLING THE MENU at Uchi Denver (uchi.uchirestaurants.com), order a cocktail. Try the Uchi G&T with yuzu and Thai basil or one of the 39 varieties of sake with names that translate into things such as “bride of the fox.” I went for “dreamy clouds,” and it was delicious.
Many of the menu’s seemingly limitless offerings fall under headings in Japanese: omakase (“I trust you, chef ”), agemono (fried things), toyosu (things from the fish market), makimono (rolls), and yasaimono (vegetables). It’s a little overwhelming, but the restaurant’s welltrained servers, who are also plentiful and very efficient, will help you navigate it all.
Uchi is Japanese for “home” and is named after the little red house in Austin, Texas, where American sushi master and James Beard Award-winning chef Tyson Cole first introduced his take on elevated Japanese in 2003. Although Uchi Denver is located in a modern industrial building, the shoji screens, red flowered wallpaper panels, and abundance of raw wood give the space a feel of warmth, almost like a bustling Japanese tatami room. The southern wall is made from a combination of red and clearcrystal bricks, which create interesting plays of light in the dining room. Cole’s goal with Uchi was to create the perfect bite. Bites that achieve perfection: the hama chili (yellowtail with ponzu, Thai chili and tiny orange slices), the nasu (Japanese eggplant) and the itoyori (threadfin bream).
If you’re hungry, you’ll want to add a couple larger dishes, such as the decadent karaage (fried chicken thighs with sweet chili and pickles) or the Uchi salad, which is rolled into bundles you eat with your hands. Don’t skip the fried milk dessert.