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Uchi Scottsdale: The Latest Gem of Old Town

Photos courtesy of Uchi

Uchi Scottsdale hero image

Courtesy of Uchi

This new Asian Fusion restaurant has a unique twist on traditional Japanese cuisine.

Anew restaurant has entered the heart of Scottsdale. With its innovative cuisine, electric atmosphere and exemplary service, Uchi’s commitment to providing its guests with a memorable experience is evident upon arrival through the thick wood pivot doors.

Uchi is an upscale Asian fusion restaurant that integrates the qualities and culture of its location with classic Asian cuisine. This is especially apparent with their gyutoro dish—a nigiri option with 72-hour short rib on a bed of rice and a dollop of wasabi. It was created to blend an Asian dish with barbecue, a popular cuisine in Austin, where the Uchi flagship restaurant is. With locations in hotspots like West Hollywood, Miami, Denver, and now Scottsdale, each menu looks a little different.

“We didn’t want to be traditional,” Blake Luecke, Uchi Scottsdale’s Chef de Cuisine, says. “Chef Tyson (Founder of Uchi) didn’t want us to be another sushi restaurant that served the same thing… Over the years, we have evolved a lot. Everyone influences the restaurant; we want to get what’s local to the area and incorporate that into what we do here. We don’t want to be stuck to just one thing; we want to be ever-evolving.”

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Luecke went to the International Culinary Center in San Jose, Calif. He has worked in many restaurants, from mom-and-pop restaurants like Blue Creamery to the fast-paced restaurants in the Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, Calif. Luecke is well versed in all aspects of the industry. After his time at the Padre Hotel, he began his journey at Uchi. 

“I staged at Uchi in 2016 and spent two days at the restaurant, after which they offered me a position,” Luecke says. I packed up all my stuff and moved to Austin. I started working at Uchi during the first weekend of ACL. It was crazy. I learned a lot that weekend. Knowing that I could make it through that weekend made me feel like I could make it through anything.”

Luecke started his career at Uchi as a line cook and quickly worked up to his current position as Chef de Cuisine. 

Uchi Scottsdale Chef de Cuisine Blake Luecke

Blake Luecke, Chef de Cuisine

“I worked my way through the whole kitchen,” Luecke explains. I started as a line cook working with tempura. I then worked with Yakitori, Garde Manger and Sauté. After working Sauté, I started my Sous Chef training.” 

Not only is Uchi an excellent restaurant that encourages you to try new things with the menu setup to include multiple tasting options and a wide variety of hot dishes, cold dishes, and sushi, but Uchi is also committed to sustainability. “As a company, we have been pushing to be more sustainable, whether with the fish on the sushi bar or our chopsticks, and we are trying to take a more sustainable approach. We are working on getting compost for the restaurant.” Luecke says. 

We don't want to be stuck to just one thing; we want to be ever-evolving.

Luecke says the best way to experience Uchi is to try a little bit of everything, so try everything, I did. And I can’t wait to go back. 

Because I wanted to try a wide range of Uchi’s menu items, I opted for the omakase experience. This experience allows the guest to choose from a ten-course chef’s pick tasting menu or a curated dining plan from their server. Seeing my server’s excitement and passion for the menu, I wanted her to showcase the best of the menu through her eyes. 

I started my evening with the refreshing mitsu mitsu mocktail, a light and delicious drink crafted with ritual zero-proof gin, rosemary, yuzu and honey.

Uchi Scottsdale cocktail

My server first brought out the Uchi Salad, two baby gem lettuce leaves filled with wild puffed rice and daikon, drizzled with a jalapeno and edamame puree dressing, and Thai cashew pesto. This salad introduced me to so many flavor combinations I would have never ordered on my own, and it got me excited for what else was to arrive at the table. 

Shortly after finishing the salad, a crispy shrimp tempura and bluefin toro maki, a maki roll with fatty bluefin tuna, aged tamari, smoked trout roe, and umeboshi– a pickled fruit from Japan often translated as ‘salted Japanese plum.’ The lightness of the tempura batter added the perfect amount of crispiness to the shrimp, while the sushi presented a denser flavor profile. Both are divine in their own ways. 

Our server then brought out the hama chili from their cold-tasting menu. This dish, made with yellowtail and orange supremes sandwiched between thin fish slices topped with ponzu sauce and Thai chili, adds a sweet element, amplifying the flavor of the fish while still offering a subtle heat element, making it wonderfully complex and flavorful. 

Just when I thought nothing could top the delicious hama chili, my server presented me with the lobster gunkan, fresh lobster with brown butter, lemon juice, and chives, and the staple dish, the walu walu, a hot dish consisting of oak-grilled escolar topped with citrus marmalade, candied garlic chips, ponzu, and myoga. According to the chef, this item has been on the Uchi menu for more than 15 years, and it’s no surprise why.

Surprisingly, I was only halfway through my dinner. I still had many delectable dishes to try. I thank my server for frequently checking in on me and making sure I still had room to continue trying the menu. 

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Uchi Scottsdale Nigiri

A nigiri piece, the kanpachi, made with amberjack and topped with black garlic and crispy shallots, made its way to the table. Its buttery and smooth flavor was a great contrast from the strong, sweet, and spicy profiles I had prior. 

ICONIC Tip: When eating nigiri pieces, flip them over so the fish is the first thing to touch your taste buds, altering the flavor experience.

The next dish is something I would not have ordered on my own, which is why this experience is excellent; it ended up being one of my favorites. The kinoko nabe is a mixture of four different seasonal mushrooms, crunchy sushi rice, and 72-hour wagyu short rib, all bound together by egg yolk. This dish was amazing. The bursts of flavor from the wagyu and mushrooms were fantastic. I couldn’t get enough of this dish. 

After all the food I ate, I was surprised I still had room for dessert, but when they brought out their signature fried milk dessert, I couldn’t help but devour it. The rich chocolate mousse, the silky milk-flavored ice cream, and the burst of fresh cream when you bite from the puff pastry were incredible. 

uchi Scottsdale Fried Milk

Uchi Scottsdale stands out in our elevated cuisine community because of its diverse menu and exceptional service, which will keep me and others coming back frequently. 

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