Chef Tyson Cole
As some of you may know, I really adore great food.
I like to cook it, read about it, shop for it, and most of all, I love to visit great restaurants.
I have a few all-time favorites...KPaul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans, the late, great Perino's in Beverly Hills, Barnacle Billy's in Ogunquit, Maine, The Charthouse in Redondo Beach, Gibby's in Montreal, Yank Sing in San Francisco, etc.
But nothing on Earth compares to the Japanese fusion/sushi/molecular gastronomy of Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi in Austin.
Every sauce droplet explodes with flavor, and the shishimi is so fresh, it's like it's still damp with sea water. While one often cannot tell exactly what they're eating, it's always delicious, new and exhilarating to eat.
When I opened this month's issue of Bon Appetit, they ran a feature on the Ten Best Sushi Restaurants in America, and I was pleased to see Uchi listed as one of them.
How nice to know that a few days later I'd be eating there with my sisters and their partners.
On Saturday, we arrived at the crack of 5 p.m. in order to avoid the two hour wait for those silly enough to arrive 15 minutes later.
As we drank chilled, unfiltered sweet sake at the bar, my sister's partner T. and I wandered to the sushi bar to behold the fish of the day- several manicured blocks of gorgeous ruby red tuna, flounder, amberjack, halibut and fish we'd never heard of.
The perfect micro greens were displayed in glass blocks, surrounded by wooden boxes of sea salt, pepper and other spices. A bowl of grape-sized cherry tomatoes sat next to a row of jars filled with tiny capers, seeds and flavorful little threads.
As we drooled over the comestibles, we spoke to the sous chefs as they sharpened their knives and readied themselves for the night.
Then a clean, shiny young man who looked about 20 appeared in a starchy white chef's jacket and smiled at us. My mouth dropped open with awe. He was Tyson Cole, the executive chef and owner of Uchi. He shook our hands and welcomed us.
He appreciated our appreciation, and I fawned over him with the kind of adoration saved for chefs like Julia Child, Eric Repirt, Paul Prudhomme and Wolfgang Puck.
I told him I'd had sashimi right off the boat in the harbor of Tokyo at 6 a.m., and his tasted better.
I told him I'd eat roadkill if he prepared it.
He lapped up my adoration, I guess because he could tell I meant every word of it.
Soon the five of us were seated, gazing at the menu with drooling anticipation.
Then a waiter appeared with an amuse bouche we hadn't ordered.
"An offering from the chef," he said.
We looked down into tiny plates containing one glimmering, bite-sized cube of Mercurochrome colored gel, nestled among several minuscule squares of peeled green apple and daikon radish.
I popped the cube into my mouth, let it melt and tasted a million flavors: light tomato aspic, fish sauce, garlic, apple juice, who knew what-all the little cube contained. It was amazingly unidentifiable, but delicious. Then the little melange of apple and radish finished off the flavor profile, causing all of us to look up in awe.
And that was just the beginning.
(to be continued)