July 1, 2022



Uchiko, sister restaurant to Uchi, opens in Houston today

4 min read

Welcome to The Lowdown, where we tell readers what they can expect from the latest restaurant openings in Houston. Today, we’re discussing Uchiko, the Hai Hospitality Austin concept that’s unveiling its Houston location on May 23. We answer all your questions.

Is Uchiko that Austin restaurant everyone says is so fabulous? Yes, the wait is over. After more than a decade of hearing about the popular Uchiko in Austin, Houstonians can experience it for themselves without making the 150-mile trek up U.S. 290. Hai Hospitality (Uchi, Uchiko and Loro) chose Houston’s Post Oak Place, next to the posh new Zadok Jewelers boutique, as the home for the restaurant’s second Texas outpost. It officially opens for dinner service beginning today.

Chef Shaun King prepares dry-aged duck at Uchiko.

Chef Shaun King prepares dry-aged duck at Uchiko.

Hai Hospitality

Why should I go to Uchiko when I’ve already been to Uchi? I know, right? Heck, it sounds almost exactly the same. Uchi and Uchiko are very similar; neither is more or less casual than the other, and they are both pricey. But you may want to visit to finally end the FOMO from everyone raving about Uchiko since it opened in Austin in 2010, and simply to check out the sparkly new place to score sushi and imaginative, modern Japanese plates.

Uchiko packs some star power, too. Chef de cuisine Shaun King, who honed his chops at Momofuku Las Vegas and The Dawson in Chicago, adds a fiery flair to Uchiko’s food, much of which is infused with smoke in a way that Uchi’s is not. While the menu is categorized like its sister concept—listing Cool Tastings, Hot Tastings, Nigiri, etc—there is a spotlight on dishes prepared in the restaurant’s hearth, such as the four-times seared charred onion aged Bar N Ranch beef. There is a decent amount of crossover: You’ll find Uchi fan favorites like the hama chili and hotate crudo on the menu at Uchiko.

The hearth in the kitchen is what sets Uchiko apart.

The hearth in the kitchen is what sets Uchiko apart.

Hai Hospitality

But if we’re honest, the real takeaway? People in Montrose will go to Uchi and people closer to I-610 will go to Uchiko.

If I’m not feeling sushi, what else is on the menu? As smoke and char define Uchiko’s food, you’ll find lots more to indulge in than raw fish. Dry-aged duck arrives in neat slices; they were too chewy on a recent visit, but are glazed with house-made hoisin sauce and accompanied by hearth-roasted cabbage. The hearth-roasted lobster is where it’s at, wrapped in banana leaf and decadent with umeboshi butter, tom kha and king trumpet confit.

The banana leaf-wrapped lobster at Uchiko is a showstopper.

The banana leaf-wrapped lobster at Uchiko is a showstopper.

Megha McSwain

OK, I’m sold. But will Uchiko’s desserts be as legendary as Uchi’s? Pastry chef Ariana Quant oversees the dessert program at both concepts, so you can look forward to dishes worthy of saving room for. Like many of the mains, desserts also make their way through the hearth. The baba au toki whiskey is a subtly sweet confection made with charred pineapple, while the s’mores are a modern take on the classic campfire favorite, toasted tableside with fiery charcoal.

The s'mores dessert at Uchiko comes in a dramatic tableside presentation.

The s’mores dessert at Uchiko comes in a dramatic tableside presentation.

Hai Hospitality

What’s the booze sitch? This is one of the main differences between the two concepts. Unlike Uchi, which serves only beer, wine and sake, Uchiko has a full bar, including well-crafted cocktails made with Japanese spirits. The Tea Smoked Martini with gin and jasmine tea boasts earthy flavors, while the whiskey-fueled Fujin is intense and spirit-forward. As far as the wine list goes, you’ll see an emphasis on reds as a complement to the bold flavors of the hearth-roasted dishes—although admittedly, probably not the best pairing for the sushi and raw fish portion of the menu.

I love Uchi’s happy hour, will Uchiko have one too? Uchiko also offers a daily happy hour, from 4 to 6 p.m. In addition to discounted maki, nigiri and hand rolls, find snacks like ebi skewers and grilled shishito peppers, plus 50 percent off bottles of bubbly.

Pulling up my app right now to make a reservation—but should I go for a table or sit at the sushi bar? With a buildout featuring wood floors, warm hues and cushiony banquettes, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. But to get a closer look, a seat at the sushi bar is recommended. From here, you’ll see the sushi chefs styling plates and such, but you’ll also witness the magic of the yakitori grill, where post oak and binchotan wood are incorporated to smoke and cure both hot and cold dishes.

Uchiko Houston

Find it: 1801 Post Oak Blvd Suite 110, Houston, TX 77056

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 4-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 4-11 p.m.

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