Fried mackerel, peanuts, cilantro, lemon curd at Uchi on S. Lamar, June 6, 2007
Stingray and I waited an hour for a table at Uchi last night. Then we ordered the chef’s tasting menu (the actual name for it was a Japanese phrase meaning “I trust you”). Whereupon Jody, our server, brought us 8 or 10 courses in succession, at a pace compatible with the digestive processes of peckish epicures. If I were writing a fantasy novel — and we should all be infinitely grateful that this is not the case, because I wouldn’t be able to put in a single faerie or Golden Sword of Zwyrrdnnflyr — I would describe what happened next as “we flew into transports.” But I am writing a blog post, so I will merely say that we became very pleasantly pisculent.
Succulent little sea-dwelling morsels which only 24 hours earlier had been swimming without a care in the world in and around Japanese waters arrived dressed with indescribably delicate emulsions and sauces and dice of fruit and vegetable and mineral. Each of these edible tableaux was as close to an expression of Truth and Beauty as anything I’ve ever chewed. Buttery slices of snapper with tangerines; Applewood smoked yellowfin with candied garlic, almonds, and taro chips; a whole fried mackerel with fried peanuts and Meyer lemon curd; grilled scallops with fairy-ring mushrooms and roasted grape tomato; yes, and foie gras on a grilled brioche with papaya compote and some mysterious fresh herbs, and yes, I ate it, goddammit; pinball-sized scoops of sorbet made from absurd vermillion mountain peaches with more unidentified herbs and tiny cubes of mint gelatin; fried fish skin, nectarines, tangerines, Asian pears, New Zealand lobsterettes –
I would call it the best meal I’ve had in 10 years, except that Uchi’s chef is a fucking genius, and nobody within 1000 miles of Austin is doing anything remotely comparable. “But Twisty,” you say, “why deduct points for that?” Well, precisely because it is so astonishing, the place was crammed to the rafters with expensive people. And because it’s Austin, the expensive people were unable to stop yelling.
Yelling and Truth and Beauty: one of these things is not like the other.
Also, one of our servers called the soup “vishy-swah.”
Also, there appeared to be an amateur pole dancers convention in progress; I hadn’t thought it possible for so many heaving rubber bosoms to so heavily predominate a given square footage except at the MTV Movie Awards.