When you’re prowling for sushi in the Lone Star State, you go to Uchi, the ballyhooed Japanese restaurant that earned Austin native, chef and restaurateur Tyson Cole a 2005 Food and Wine magazine Best New Chef accolade and, after several years of being a semifinalist, the 2011 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest title. Uchi, umbrellaed under Austin-based Hai Hospitality group, which Cole founded in 2015, lays claim to three locations in Texas: Austin, Dallas, and Houston. The prolific chef’s portfolio also trumpets Uchiko (a Japanese farmhouse-inspired restaurant in Austin), Top Knot (a Dallas-based modern Westernized restaurant with Asian roots) and the forthcoming Loro, an Asian smokehouse that will open later this fall in Austin.
Following the launch of Loro, Cole, who trained under the tutelage of two sushi masters—and whose culinary prowess spans more than a decade cooking in Tokyo, New York, and his hometown—will turn his attention to Denver and the unveiling of Uchi, which marks Cole’s first restaurant venture outside of Texas. The Denver outpost, slated to open in early 2018 at 2501 Lawrence Street, in Curtis Park, will reflect the menu at the Uchi flagship in Austin, as well as Uchiko. The dishes at the Denver Uchi (the name, by the way, translates to “house” in Japanese) will be a combination of makimono, yakimono, tempura, sushi, and sashimi. The majority of plates, including the signature machi cure—smoked yellowtail paired with yucca chips and Marcona almonds—and kinoko nabe, a jumble of mushrooms, rice, and egg yolk cooked table-side, are designed to be shared.
“We’re excited to open Uchi in an energetic city with a vibrant culture and evolving food scene,” says Cole. “We’re always exploring new avenues to expand how we connect with food and the community,” he adds, noting, too, that while the restaurant benefits from daily deliveries of fresh fish, he “relishes the chance to work with local farmers.”
Denver architecture firm, tres birds workshop, will oversee the design of Uchi and the surrounding mixed-use development, incorporating elements like a shared greenhouse and community garden. Award-winning Austin architect, Michael Hsu, who led the design efforts for other restaurants in the Hai Hospitality group, is consulting on the project, while Denver-based developer Westfield Company, Inc. is a partner. The real estate project, called S*Park, is a two-block, eco-conscious mixed-use community of townhomes, studios, condos, and a private central park, all of which will be erected on the plot that was Sustainability Park, home to The Big Wonderful, a weekly summer festival that has since relocated to Stanley Marketplace.
By Lori Midson