the spot: Uroko 1023 Springdale Road Bldg 1 ste C Austin TX 78721
the eats: Omakase(chef’s tasting menu)
the bucks: $95 per person, 45 minute duration
the full nelson: Bang for your Buck lux sushi experience
Shame on me for sitting on my New Year’s Eve dinner post for this long. That’s pretty much how it goes when you have a queue of food pics like my phone does. Now that I’m no longer ashamed I’ll get right to the heart of this post:
And PS: that’s a bargain of you are talking about a chef’s tasting menu. I posted about Uroko a few years back and then, as in now, they offer great value for the quality of sushi you are getting. Uroko is affordable because they are smart about the experience. Most days the menu is limited to Temaki or handrolls. On Friday and Saturdays they offer 45 minute Omakase Chef tasting menu experiences. 45 minutes is certainly short but it’s why it’s affordable: you fill up on just enough and it’s quality over quantity.
There are more than a few sushi restaurants in Austin charging $200+ a person, before drinks, so understand that $95 a person for respectable deal when you consider the context. Maybe there won’t be 4 courses of bluefin tuna belly but you don’t have to eat copious amounts endangered mercury laden fish to have a good time.
I’m going to just run through each course, describing simply what each one consisted of. Spoiler alert: it was all good. Of course as the meal goes on, and the meatier and richer courses arrive, those notes hit the hardest.
Ready? Ok. Irasshaimase! (welcome to the restaurant)
Seared beef, soft boiled egg and pickled Japanese vegetables. Yeah, take it or leave it but it came in such an adorbs basket! Meh, it was part of the meal so fine but I wouldn’t order this one on its own.
This is halibut sushi with a shiso leaf in between the fish and rice and a dollop of wasabi on top. True sushi heads will appreciate the subtle clean flavor experience of halibut. It is mild but it can be good, at least a bit more memorable than bad Hirame which seems to lack any flavor at all. This is a time where one might appreciate the quality of the sushi rice and how one can relish the fish even when the flavor isn’t massively over the top. It’s about the rice too kids, it’s about the rice too.
Things got nice and buttery with this scallop sushi. Hailing from Hokkaido, I know the scallop is gonna be good because that’s an area in Japan that sushi restaurants and upscale fishmongers name drop. Prized for their size and meaty flavor, these scallops a mollusk status symbol to die hards, like me.
Raw squid doesn’t have a ton of flavor, actually neither does cooked squid. But there is texture to be harnessed. We have all had bad calamari(pro tip: don’t fry it to death) but how does calamari become memorable in sushi? Scoring the flesh with a knife helps. The wasabi was placed underneath the squid and the rice, a nice touch.
Sake also means salmon, so let’s just clear that up. Also this salmon was dank. Yeah, I said dank. Sweet, rich, fatty and a crowd pleaser. This is when one rolls their eyes back. All those other pieces were leading up to this.
Even the thrifty Uroko Omakase had to get into some kind of bluefin tuna. Toro, or bluefin tuna belly gets all the love like Kim Kardashian but hey, you can have a good time with Chloe and a piece of regular bluefin tuna. The salmon set off the rich factor, now the tuna set off the hearty meaty factor.
Similar to yellowtail, Kanpachi which is also known as amberjack is a tuna. Not as meaty as yellowfin or blue fin, Kanpachi has a sweeter taste and is overall more mild though not to the degree of Halibut. This is a crowd pleaser too.
Katsuo is a Skipjack tuna and shares the red hue of yellowfin and bluefin tuna. Like those tuna, Katsuo is one meaty mofo. It’s hard to get this fish outside of a good sushi restaurant as the fish is difficult to keep fresh. This one is a lip smacker for sure. I want to say there is ankimo, monkfish liver pate on top. Known as the foie gras of the sea, ankimo is awesome on it’s own. Yeah, we are getting to heart of the lineup here.
I have had Uni(sea urchin) with Ikura(salmon roe) before but I didn’t know it had a name till I deciphered Uroko’s menu. I love Uni and Ikura so this was damn awesome. Like I said, heart of the lineup here.
10 years ago if you would have said the words “wagyu nigiri” I would have run. Maybe it’s all the brisket but Wagyu isn’t all that to me anymore. Also I think you need a bit of a sear to render some fat and really get some of the flavor in. But you know what? It was also Wagyu nigiri and that is never a bad thing.
Great nights end with a breakfast at dawn. This wasn’t Denny’s but it was also much better and a nice way to end the meal. Tamago is a Japanese omelette, served cold and it’s kinda delightful. Great egg dishes explore texture and great sushi is about texture as well. I wouldn’t order tamago ala carte but it makes sense at the end of the meal. And speaking of . . .
Was it worth $95? Hell yes. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’ll leave you with the sake list to peruse. All good stuff and very smooth. Also worth researching at your local wine shop: