I just had my dinner at UkaiTei and I wanted to write my review while the memories are still fresh in my head.
The restaurant isn’t hard to find, once you are on the right street you really can’t miss it with the big fork and spoon statues on either side of the main entrance. As I was approaching the front door, a lady was already there to greet me. I was ushered into a waiting room while they took care of my coat, then within seconds was seated.
The ambience is quite old school, but it felt cosy. Not stuffy like a lot of high end places. The clientele and how they were dressed was varied as well, from casual to quite formal to some that were a little, shall I say, flamboyant!
My drink and food order was taken very quickly. Then journey began… I ordered the “Special Course”, which is the seasonal menu and the most expensive of their set dinners.
My chef was friendly and engaging. He appreciated my strangled attempts at Japanese. The first course was a carpaccio of flounder with caviar. It light and clean and a good starter to warm up the taste buds. Second course was an ox tongue with mushrooms. This was sensational, I’ve had tongue before and can be a little bit tricky if not done right. This was tender but had a bite to it and the sauce it was cooked in was just delicious.
Then came the lobster in a lemon butter. The lobster was cooked rare and the sauce was very mild and delicate so as not to overpower the natural sweetness. Tender, juicy and extremely fresh.
The next course was a salt baked abalone in a seaweed butter. Abalone is another tricky one as if it is cooked wrong can be like eating rubber. But this was done beautifully. Also you are provided with 2 pieces of crusty bread to mop up the sauce from the lobster and the abalone.
Then came the pièce de résistance, the steak. It is was Grade 5 Wagyu, not the highest grade, but was plenty marbled. I opted for medium rare. It was served with a red onion salad with some dressing (I think it was ponzu). There was also wasabi mustard and black pepper for the steak. The steak was buttery, juicy and tender. Extremely beefy and really did not need much in the way of condiments. My only complaint was that I wish it was a bigger piece!
The final course before dessert was a claypot beef and mushroom rice with pickles and miso soup. The rice was very creamy and packed with flavour. I’m a huge miso soup fan. This one was the most intense I’ve actually had in a restaurant. It had a smoky flavour and was just screaming umami.
After you are done with the savoury part of the meal, you are guided to the next room for dessert. Dessert and coffee comes with the meal and you can choose from 4 options. I had the Japanese chestnut dessert. I’m not a huge dessert person but this was interesting. It was a small scoop of ice cream smothered in a chestnut paste spaghetti with some whole chestnuts in it. After I was done with that, a lady came by and served a plate of petit fours. By this stage I was extremely full so I had to give that a miss. They looked good though. One was a raspberry macaron, there was some shortbread in there and a green tea chocolate.
All in all a superb meal and a real experience, but let me just say that the service in this restaurant is impeccable. The staff are all extremely friendly. Some spoke English, others not so much, but I did have fun trying to converse in my extremely broken Japanese. You pretty much feel like you are being served by everyone who works there. I was a solo diner and at no stage did I feel awkward or out of place as some other high end restaurants make you feel, neither was I forgotten about as often happens at other places. The staff were just terrific. After I paid the bill, I was given a farewell outside by no less than 4 people.
Bottom line, it isn’t a cheap dinner but it was worth it.
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