Uchibā, the casual Japanese restaurant sibling to Austin-born fancy Japanese restaurant Uchi, is opening its second-ever location in Austin this fall. The 601 West Second Street restaurant in downtown Austin will open on Friday, October 6.
Much like its sibling restaurants (Uchi, Uchiko), Uchibā serves Japanese cuisine, but with an eye towards more casual dishes. There are yakitori (chicken thigh, ebi katsu), baos (the Tiger Cry comes with pork belly and pickled carrots), buns (hot fried chicken on a Parker House roll), skewers, and dumplings (a chicken dumpling with chawanmushi foam), as well as other bites (crispy tofu, fried green tomatoes, karaage) and sushi (spicy tuna rolls, sake maki). Some familiar Uchi items will also be served, like the iconic hama chili.
Drinks includes cocktails, sakes, wines, beers with Japanese and Austin/Texas options, Japanese whiskys, as well as tequilas and mezcals. There will also be paired cocktail and specific bite suggestions, i.e. the wagyu tartare with marsala wine or the oysters with a martini.
The cocktails include takes on classic drinks like the Nikko martini with gin, an aged sake, Lillet, and umami bitters; and the Apricot Boulevardier. Then there are draft picks like the gin and tonic and the Zilker Park Swizzle with rum, mint, and jasmine tea. And then there are highballs made using a machine from Suntory. Finally, there are also low-ABV and nonalcoholic options.
The physical space includes a bar, a sushi bar, lounge seating, and indoor/outdoor dine-in areas. It’s found within the Block 185 building — aka the Google Tower. The physical space was created by the Uchibā’s parent company’s design dream and Sanders Architecture.
Uchi opened in 2003 by founder, chef, and co-owner Tyson Cole on South Lamar, becoming known for high-end new-school sushi. That was followed by Uchiko in 2010. Eventually, the restaurant expanded into other Texas cities (Houston, Dallas) and non-Texas cities (Denver, Miami, with plans to open in Los Angeles) under the then-Uchi Restaurant Group/-now Hai Hospitality group. The company also oversees Asian smokehouse Loro with Franklin Barbecue’s Aaron Franklin (which has locations in Austin, Dallas, Houston). The business also has major expansion goals. Uchiba originated in Dallas, taking over what had been Hai’s other casual restaurant Top Knot, in 2018.
Overseeing Uchibā’s Austin location is chef de cuisine Vaidas Imsha (who had worked at Uchi since 2017 and had been the executive sous chef of Uchi Austin), head sushi chef Rodolfo Martinez (who started at Uchi in 2016 in the back-of-house, and eventually became a sous chef at the sushi bar), Hai’s executive pastry chef Ariana Quant, and Hai’s beverage director Jason Kosmas.
Uchibā’s hours will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and then from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is currently accepting reservations.