In a fortuitous turn of events, Dallas diners have a trio of new options for early evening bites and drinks, and the theme is Japanese. Uptown restaurants Nobu, Uchi and Uchiba have each rolled out updated happy hour menus over the past couple of weeks, which is your cue to stop in after work for that 5 p.m. cocktail. Here's what you need to know.
Located in the Crescent and open since 2005, Nobu has long felt like a special occasion restaurant, the place you go for a birthday dinner, when clients are in town, or whenever someone else is buying. But its new "Tanoshi Hour" is downright reasonable, and generous with its time, occurring from 5-7 p.m. each weekday and all night on Sundays.
Choose from $6 beers, $8 glasses of wine and $9 cocktails, like the Kikori Old Fashioned, which is made with Japanese whisky. Plates go for $10 and include cold items like sushi rolls wrapped in perfectly crisp seaweed, sashimi tacos, and crispy rice topped with spicy tuna. Hot dishes include black cod lettuce cups, umami chicken wings and Wagyu foie gras gyoza. "Tanoshi Hour is a great way to indulge your Nobu craving," says general manager Layne Nguyen.
Nobu Dallas, 400 Crescent Court. 214-252-7000. noburestaurants.com/dallas.
Uchi's popular "sake social" happy hour has always drawn crowds, who fill up the restaurant shortly after the doors open at 5 p.m. to partake in cheaper-than-usual dishes and drinks. You can continue fighting for a seat at the sushi bar between the hours of 5 and 6:30 p.m., except now, you'll be ordering from the new "Sushi and Sake" menu. It's a more focused concept than its predecessor and features five sushi options and five rolls, all priced between $2 and $10. A handful of Uchi classics are also available at happy hour prices, like the hama chili (yellowtail with ponzu, Thai chili and orange) and the walu walu (oak-grilled escolar with candied citrus, ponzu and Japanese ginger). To wash it all down, try some sake. It's available hot, cold or mixed into cocktails.
Uchi's upstairs sibling, Uchiba, has also launched a new happy hour between 5 and 6:30 p.m. While it formerly held the same "sake social" moniker as Uchi, now you're dealing with "Whisky and
Wagyu," a menu that emphasizes Japanese spirits and meat. For the whisky part of things, try the Toki Time, a Japanese whisky highball accented by shiso leaf, or opt for a straight pour of Hibiki Harmony, a delicate and floral whisky. That Wagyu can be eaten on a skewer, as a meatball, or as a mini burger topped with miso mustard, caramelized onion and white cheddar. Other dishes include the popular hot fried chicken bun, or get your raw fish fix via a small selection of nigiri and maki.
Uchi Dallas and Uchiba, 2817 Maple Ave. 214-855-5454. uchidallas.com.