Uchi Lounge is a little Japanese gem hidden in a laneway off Oxford St.
We made the mistake of taking our 4 month old with us who was overtired and quite grumpy. I recommend you visit baby-less and fancy free so you can really enjoy yourself. Apologies to the group of four career women who were seated at the table next to us, you are now probably put off having kids for life!
For the complete experience, start with a sake cocktail in the bar downstairs and then head up the very steep staircase (not great for prams, another reason to leave bub at home!) and get ready to feast like a Queen (sorry male readers, or King).
There was three of us on this visit and we tried a lot of dishes so there are plenty of photos for you…
Complimentary rice cakes.
Sapporo beer on tap = excited hubby!
I only started liking beer while gobbling gyoza in Tokyo a few years ago when I discovered that Japanese beer with gyoza is a fantastic combination for pre-dinner nibbles. I have just realised that we didn’t order any gyoza at Uchi but after a quick check of the menu can see they don’t serve them. A bit weird! However, they weren’t missed on the night, as there were so many interesting dishes to taste.
Can you spot Poppy’s little arm in the lefthand corner of the shot above? At this point she was super tired but refusing to go to sleep.
Roasted Edamame w/ Lemon & Premium Hakata Salt, $6.50.
Why have I not tried this before? Roasting the edamame is genius; it adds a subtle smokey, charred taste and keeps the pods really dry. Great with a squeeze of lemon.
The next dish to arrive was the Assorted Sushi, $16 (first picture above). Absolutely gorgeously fresh fish and don’t you just love the wasabi leaf?
Crispy-fried Squid w/ Shichimi Pepper, Mint, Coriander & Green Tea Salt, $14.50.
Sorry about the blurry photo but we were in a real rush to eat these crisp little morsels! They were perfectly fried with no excess oil and the presentation in the paper cone is very cute.
Agedashi Tofu w/ Kombu Broth, $9.50.
I always order agedashi tofu as it is one of my most favourite Japanese dishes. The tofu in this version has the right textural contrast of crunchy shell and silken tofu inside but I thought the broth was a tiny bit too salty, however, that’s perhaps because I was just gulping too much of it!
Uchi Sushi Rolls; Salmon, Prawn, Avocado & Coriander w/ Tangy Mayo (4pc), $12.50.
The spicy mayo was a great accompaniment and the salmon, prawn and avocado were all top notch produce.
Grilled Eggplant w/ Miso & Parmesan, $16.50.
This was an umami mouth explosion! Did you know that parmesan is also an umami flavour, like miso? Small chunks of eggplant (aubergine) were perfectly cooked until soft and unctuous and then smothered in a lip-smacking miso sauce and grilled parmesan.
Miso and eggplant are two of those ingredients that were truly made for each other and this is another one of my must-order dishes when it appears on the menu. This version was nothing short of spectacular. I loved it so much that I tucked into it before remembering halfway through that I needed to photograph it – hence the missing eggplant chunks in the background!
Chargrilled Seared Tuna w/ Sauce of Enoki Soy Mushroom & Grilled King Mushrooms, $24.50.
There are just two words to describe this dish – unexpectedly delicious! The description sounded quite plain so I was surprised how much I absolutely adored the combination of ingredients. Each element was expertly cooked with the tuna quickly seared to keep it really rare and the mushrooms strongly charred and meaty in texture.
Special of the day: Wagyu beef rolls with green beans.
I was completely full-to-the-brim by this point but once I tasted these flavour-packed rolls I somehow found a little more room. Melt-in-the-mouth tender wagyu beef was lightly seared and wrapped around steamed beans, totally luscious and a perfect end to the meal.
We just couldn’t face dessert but I wouldn’t mind going back to taste the Green Tea & Cinnamon Crème Brûlée.
Final verdict? Go, go, go! But don’t take your baby. Enjoy this little gem of a restaurant with a bunch of good friends so that you can really order up big and get a taste of the many delicious dishes. If you’ve got time, have a drink in the cosy bar downstairs first, preferably a sake cocktail. I quite like the sound of the Sweet Devil (lychee sake, chilli sake, vodka and lychee syrup) – try one for me please and report back!