Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review from CBS4Indy.com contributor Dustin Heller
It’s time to rejoice Indy foodies–the wait is finally over. Ukiyo is open and ready to make a splash in the ever-booming Indy food scene. In case you haven’t been following along on their impressive Instagram page, Ukiyo is the new Japanese-inspired restaurant by local chef and restauranteur Neal Brown.
Brown is kind of a big deal around these parts with his other restaurants: Pizzology, The Libertine, and Stella (you can read about my visit here). He knew he wanted to open a restaurant that was inspired by Japan, but still had roots in Indiana, and the original idea was to place it right in the heart of foodie Mecca aka Virginia Ave.
When Greg Hardesty announced that he was retiring and closing the doors of Recess (we miss you!), it only made sense for Ukiyo to move right into the advantageous spot located in South Broad Ripple (4907 N College Ave).
The intimate dining area is sleek and modern with artful lighting and a few rustic touches. There is also a more brightly lit sushi bar area that is welcoming and fun. When it comes to the food, Ukiyo offers a la carte Kappo-style dining, sushi and a reservation-only Omakase.
Kappo-style dining is creating balance throughout the entire meal by using different ingredients and different courses that work well with one another to provide an indelible experience.
Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it up to you.” It’s essentially a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef. I was lucky enough to get a preview of Ukiyo and was treated to an Omakase by Chef Brown himself. So, instead of giving you my “can’t miss” items, I’m just going to show you what Neal Brown himself thought that I shouldn’t miss:
Braised daikon | hatcho miso | chili
Daikon is an Asian white radish that has a much milder flavor than the radishes we’re mostly accustomed to here in the Midwest. The daikon is braised and served cold with yellow hatcho miso and chili. This is a nice and refreshing way to kick off your meal, and to prepare your palate for what’s about to come.
Ramen seems to be everywhere in the food world right now, but hasn’t quite taken over Indy just yet. Never fear, Moon Rabbit Ramen is open for lunch inside Ukiyo and they’re serving up tasty ramen in three unique styles. The Shoyu I was served uses a soy sauce-based broth and is loaded with noodles, Chinese BBQ pork, bamboo shoots, and a perfectly cooked cured egg. This is the foodie’s cure for the wintertime blues.
Unagi is the Japanese word for freshwater eel, and is a staple in most sushi joints. Due to significant pressures on worldwide freshwater eel populations, Ukiyo has come up with a tasty alternative that you might not even be able to tell the difference. Instead of eel, they are using a fatty farm-raised catfish that will have the sushi lovers dancing in the aisles.
Pork shogayaki | daikon | kaiware
I love playing the word origin game… shoga means ginger, and yaki means grill or fry. The pork shogayaki is thinly sliced sautéed pork with a delicious ginger flavor, served with soba noodles and caramelized onions on top of Napa cabbage. This dish embodies Japanese cuisine.
Zosui | scallop | dried squid | apple
Zosui is a Japanese rice soup that is customarily served to someone feeling under the weather. I guess it’s like the Japanese version of chicken noodle soup. The zosui here is served with succulent scallops, dried squid, and apple. Japanese-inspired comfort food? Yes, please!
White chocolate pudding | sesame caramel
Now we’ve come to the most important part, right? For those with a sweet tooth, we sure have! The pudding is served really cold and almost tastes like an ice cream and the sesame flavor really stands out in the caramel. Whether you think you have room in your stomach or not, trust me and order this to finish off your meal. You won’t regret it.
Any new Neil Brown establishment should be on the radar of the foodies out there, and Ukiyo should get bumped straight to the top of your “must-try” list. If you want to be one of the first to try it before all of your friends, you probably should make a reservation today! Welcome to Indy, Ukiyo!