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Coffee Panna Cotta – Uchi

This week I finally got the chance to try one of Austin’s most talked-about restaurants: Uchi, the original of two sister sushi restaurants. Recommendations from friends and general hearsay had put this place on my radar some time ago, so when a friend of mine suggested it I was all too eager to accept. Although Asian cuisine isn’t exactly well-known for its confectionery, Uchi practices a good deal of fusion in its menu, and I was interested in experiencing the award-winning chef’s take on dessert.

Sculpture or food?

The dish in the photo looks creative, right? Unfortunately, that is the only good thing you will hear me say about it.

That cream-colored oval that you see is not the panna cotta. That is white chocolate sorbet – which may as well have been plain vanilla ice cream, for all the distinctiveness of its flavor. Next up was the the white powder – also white chocolate, and just as tasty as the ice cream. My search for the panna cotta then moved over to the dark powder, where our server had informed me that macadamia nuts were to be found. The few, minute bits of these were so mired in what I strongly suspect was simply a pile of coffee grounds that they hardly counted as present. Finally, underneath everything, I found a small lump; presumably the panna cotta. A bite of it confirmed this, and liberated its mango filling from its center. While I pondered whether panna cotta was supposed to be chewy, the mango commingled with the coffee side and created a truly unpleasant mixture (seriously, people: do not ever put mango in your coffee) that constituted my next spoonful.

The overall issue, however, remained the powder components. There was such a large proportion of them that no amount of sorbet, panna cotta or mango (ha!) could provide enough moisture to keep me from literally inhaling some of each mouthful. As for that shard sticking up out of the whole thing? A perfect example of the fine dining pitfall I avoided in my last review. I truly expected better from such a highly regarded restaurant.

RATING: ★

http://www.uchiaustin.com/uchi

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