Review: Uchitsu

19 November 2015

I was still dreaming of that amazing lunch at Butagumi as I got ready to go to dinner — for more fried food. Not to worry, it’s tempura night tonight. I was headed to Uchitsu, a place that sounded so amazingly good when I was doing research. I usually only plan 1 tempura place, so I do a lot of research, and this place — graced by 2 Michelin stars (if that means anything) — seemed the best fit.

I got to Hiroo and was a little early so wandered around the cute area. I eventually headed up and it was a modest place, only a few counter spaces as most places are like. It was relaxing, and since the course menu had to be pre-ordered the only issue was beverage — and I left my sake choice to them. A nice dry one from Niigata was there and chef greeted me to start the meal.

01-prawn head-kombu-liver sauce fish

The first set was a nice opener. A whitefish I didn’t get the name of with sauce made of its liver was excellent and rich. The kombu leaf wrapped around uni was a very cool tempura, done perfectly with no “spillage” of the rich yellow contents. And finally, the head of a prawn, perfectly fried and scrumptious. What a great start!

Chef spoke a little English but since I know the food words it went well, though at times I needed him to say it slowly as he brought out some less usual items through the night. He has great technique and is meticulous about the quality of his oil. The items came out with no drip, as he expertly shakes off any lingering oil. Of course the meal continued with the rest of the prawn.

02-prawn

Beautiful, meaty, nice. You cannot understand how different this is from the tempura you get anywhere outside of Japan, you just can’t… Then we had some excellent gingko nuts.

03-gingko

I love these things, one of my favourite things to eat. Then we got a mini carrot…

04-small carrot

These were very tasty. I was told they grow this special type in Kyoto. Cute! Then we had our first fish.

05-wakasagi smelt

These are wakasagi, a tasty smelt from Hokkaido. These were awesome, lovely texture and flavour. One of the highlights of the night. More sake and then a slight change in pace…

06-maguro-kue

The tuna sashimi was fresh and tasty, but the star really was the kue — or the longtooth grouper. That was a major delicacy and my goodness it was nice… Lovely stuff. I like all the edible plants too. A very nice interlude! Then we return to the fried stuff and the next one was a beauty…

07-himekodai

This is himekodai, or the appropriately-named Baby Princess Bream. I wish I got a better picture because the tail was just shimmering. The fish was delicate and wonderful with the special salt, and the tail showed off how good this oil was. Beautiful dish in every way. This is why tempura outside of Japan won’t work! Amazing ingredient, excellent oil, top technique. It’s not just throwing a shrimp in the oil…

I digress. The food continued and next up was a humble lotus root.

08-lotus root

The slice was on the thick side but that’s to get the full flavour of it. I like it, though some may prefer a thinner slice. Then a beautifully sliced shiitake mushroom.

9-shiitake

Nice stuff, all leading up to a major item, and I was stunned when it arrived…sekokani, the female snow crab…

10-sekokani

Oh my goodness this was awesome. The roe, the roe, the roe! I enjoyed this preparation and it added to the flavour of the item. Worked wonderfully. Another highlight of the night for sure.

I caught my breath with a bit more sake as the meal moved on with another curve ball as it came out in a hotpot…

11b-seaweed-shirako

Ah, shirako, in a seaweed soup. Beautiful stuff. Some tempura places, such as the awesome Tenko Honten in Hiroshima do serve it tempura, but I think the chef here likes to mix it up a little. This was excellent, and a very generous serving too. Lovely! Shirako is one of those awesome delicacies I don’t eat outside of Japan but savour when I am here…

I relaxed a little and was surprised the meal was still going strong as chef returned to the oil. Next up was another whitefish, the very interesting (and cute) megochi.

12-megochi flathead

This little flathead was very tasty, another of the highlights of the night. Then I knew we were near the end when the next item appeared…

13-anago

A very rich and tasty bit of anago. Lovely stuff. I love eel tempura when done right, and it was done very right here…

At this point, as per the tradition, chef asks for which final dish I like — and as usual I ask for the ten-don. And it appeared soon…

14-scallop ten-don

A beautiful melange of tempura scallops over rice, with pickles and soup. What a nice way to end this meal!

This is the reason I cannot eat tempura again outside of Japan! This was easily one of the best tempura meals I’ve ever had, nearly as good as Tenko Honten. One of the heavier, seafood-heavy ones compared to others. I was very full after this lovely dinner. I headed out after thanking chef and his 2 assistants (one in the kitchen, one for drinks service). He walked me out to thank me.

What a fabulous day of fried foods… This is the reason I so love coming back to Japan, especially Tokyo. Sometimes you just have nearly perfect days. Now if it wasn’t tripping over that tree root at Aoyama Cemetery this afternoon and twisting my ankle…

Uchitsu [うち津]
5-25-4 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo, Japan

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3 thoughts on “Review: Uchitsu

  1. Pingback: Review: Kondo | melhuang1972

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