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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Uchi Cuisine

UPDATE JULY 2012 - HAS A NEW NAME...NAMI CUISINE - An updated review can be found August 19, 2012
After a couple of stressed-out days, I headed to the island to get a mani/pedi at Venus Nails and Spa.  Jenny is the best and I knew I would be de-stressed before leaving.  She (and her massaging pedicure chair) did not let me down :-)  I headed down to Paragraphs to pick up my copy of El Valle and, DUH, it is Thursday - open at 12:00 - soooo, with a pocket of time to fill and a hungry belly, I decided to swing into Uchi at 2300 Padre Blvd.  I had not been there for lunch but was hankering for a bit of oriental fare - I thought it would fit the bill! 

My hubby and I had dinner there this winter when he was in town between assignments and we really enjoyed it.  The food was extremely well-flavored and abundant...we could have easily split a plate.  Of course, we didn't.  The soup was light and flavorful - not salty as is sometimes found in Asian restaurants - so that was a great start.  I have to admit, in the oriental arena, I have rather plebeian mainstream tastes - so I ordered the Sweet 'n' Sour Chicken.  I'm not a big fan of bell peppers and had to leave a lot of those on my plate - but the sauce was really good and the chicken was tender with good-sized chunks.  Crisp onions and carrots were a good complement to the dish, with a generous side of rice.  My husband had the General Tsao's chicken and was very satisfied with his meal.

So, having not dined there during the lunch hour, I took a few minutes to scan the menu.  They have a huge selection of sushi (of which I am not a fan) and a modest lunch selection - several of which I could be happy with.  I was feeling like a little spice, so I ordered the General Tsao's chicken since I knew it had gotten the thumbs up from my main man.  I also ordered a side of fried Spring Rolls and a glass of iced tea.  I was the first one in the door and the tea was just brewing - slight delay - but worth waiting for - and I had a book, so no worries.  A really excellent glass of iced tea.  I had refills! (I'm an iced-tea snob - and this was a 10!)

My spring rolls came out first with two dipping bowls - one, a white sweet 'n' sour sauce (thank you - who needs red food color added to the sauce?) and two, a melt your eyeballs, steam out the ears garlic/pepper sauce.  Holy moly!  I just touched the edge of my spoon and touched my tongue - and my nose started running and eyes watered - I literally choked.  That's some powerful pepper thing going on!!!!  There were two large spring rolls cut on a diagonal and they were steaming hot (temperature - not spice).  I liked that they had a very thin and fragile wrapper - crisp and brown - seemed freshly made.  It was absolutely delicious...frankly I could have made a meal of them.  I chose the chicken spring rolls - but there was a choice of shrimp spring roll.  Possibly the best I've ever had - and I've had a LOT of egg rolls!

The General Tsao's chicken was excellent as anticipated.  Big, tender, fried nuggets in a delectable spicy yet sweet brown sauce, lightly stir fried onion, red and green bell pepper (but not too much this time), lots of carrot slivers, and a couple of big old "better avoid them" dried peppers.  I could easily fork cut the large chicken pieces (not always the case at some places I've been).  I ordered fried rice when given the choice of steamed or fried.  It was lightly fried, with a bit of egg and typical peas and carrots.  A small egg roll (finger sized) was on the entree plate as well (I think it was shrimp).  Not too much and not too little - just right.  If I hadn't ordered the Spring Rolls I would have been in good shape.  I couldn't finish it all, although I gave it a good effort.

The service was excellent - very friendly, attentive waiter.  It is a small venue - just a few tables and the sushi bar.  By noon they were about 1/3 full.  It was very pleasant and relaxing and I left with a full tummy, ready to head back to Paragraph's to pick up my books.  Total price just over $18 before tip.

It's nice to have a good place to get Asian food on the island.  I probably can't take the picky teen there - but I will definitely return any chance I get.  It's not a "cheap lunch" place - but it's definitely a nice change from my usual shrimp baskets and, to me, worth the price!  I can't speak to the sushi...but I did hear someone behind me telling the person they were with that they had excellent sushi ;-)  So, there you have it, good old word of mouth!

4 – Lip smackin’ - good quality – flip flops will definitely be parked under their table again!

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