Sunday, 29 January 2017

Restaurant review: Uchi, Hackney

The first weekend of the year sans alcohol is depressing enough, without the weather conspiring to make it worse. But the gloom turned up uninvited, raining stair-rods as we Uber’d over to Uchi, for a spot of Japanese.

To lighten the tenebrous days of January, I’ve chosen to do this review in the highbrow format of ‘snog, marry, avoid’ with ‘décor, food and service’ as my three elements.


The food.

The food IS fanciable.

It’s good-looking, sleek, and a sensorial pleasure from first to last.

The stand out dish was the soft shell crab roll.  As substantial as a felled log, perfectly proportioned and delicious. We devoured it, saving the end slices until last, where the ratio of crispy crab completely outguns the rice.

The selection of fish nigiri was a rainbow from scallop to salmon, and our dish of tuna sashimi was velvety and supple. Just like the crab roll, the sashimi was hefty in size and flavour.

We book-ended the fish courses with an earthy seaweed, carrot and tofu salad that had notes of hay and ginger. Kind of like a moreish silage. We also decided to rebel against joyless clean-eating January, with some junk food –a bowlful of piping hot, elegantly seasoned chicken kara-age.


This one’s easy.  I would gladly tie the knot with the interior design and live forever among the bleached woods, copper bar tops, and washed stone of this minimalist paradise.
I would willingly forsake all others for its flickering tea lights and hanging kokedama.  

Uchi’s design creds are not so much wabi-sabi, as the carefully curated perfection of the Goodhood store. But it’s oh-so-pretty.

In look and feel, it’s about as perfect a neighbourhood restaurant as you could imagine.  But décor shouldn’t be the best thing about any restaurant. Unless you’re the Rainforest Café.


Choosing service as my ‘avoid’ is ironic, because avoid is what the staff did to us. All night.

When we arrived, we stood for several minutes before anyone bothered to speak to us. I had to pointedly look at a waitress, who finally gave up her position by the kitchen and came over to us. Now, I know a place like Ushi isn’t going to model its ‘welcome’ on the Harvester, but this level of reluctance was baffling.

During our meal, we asked for more water about halfway through, which never came.

And then, inevitably, we could get nobody to take our money after the meal was finished.
If you’ve spent so long looking at the puddles of soy sauce and leftover ginger on your plates that you choose to leave before they can collect the dishes, then they’ve left it too long.

As we could get no attention, we went up to wait at the desk in order to pay. Whilst our card payment went through, we inadvertently created an awkward barndance as staff carrying stacked crockery had to side-step and do-si-do to get round us.

Uchi - the food might be nonpareil but the service is non-existent. Next time, I think I’ll get takeaway.