Sometimes our intuition leads us through the doors of our next great dining adventure. . . Call it a “sixth sense,” if you will.
Our visit to Yuniku reminded us to listen to that intuition, because rarely have our other five senses been treated to what we were about to experience at this recently opened Asian Fusion restaurant in the rapidly expanding culinary destination found at the intersection of Lockwood Ridge Road and University Parkway,
As soon as you enter, your sense of sight is treated to visions of perhaps the most dramatic and chic restaurant in the area. A gorgeous fountain beckons, with high ceilings, dramatic lighting, and a sexy full liquor bar taking center stage. Colored mood lighting defines different dining areas, creating a different vibe in each room. Yuniku is huge, has a cozy feel due to the owner breaking up the space into several unique dining rooms. It’s almost impossible to believe there are over 200 seats!
Our sense of taste is titillated with our first glance at the expansive menu where we discover the very name, “Yuniku”, is a coined word combining “unique” and “cool.” Well, they certainly got that right!
Deciding what to order is no simple feat, but watching as dishes were delivered to neighboring tables, our sense of hearing was treated to the sounds of their enthusiastic “oohs,” “aahs,” and more than a few “wows!” I know we came to the right place.
When our very first dish arrived at the table, I had to wonder . . . did we just win an award or something? Surely visual sights like this aren’t what I expect when dining out!
The Sashimi Deluxe was almost too beautiful for words. The glass bowl was overflowing with 5 different types of fresh fish – 18 pieces including tuna, salmon, yellow tail, snapper, and white tuna, as well as fresh fruit, edible orchids, and an ice sculpture mold of a jumping fish back lit with a color-changing LED. Simply magnificent and absolutely delicious!
I have to stop here and mention that in addition to its vast Asian fusion à la carte offerings, Yuniku features an endless sushi and hibachi menu for lunch at $12.95 (whaaat?) and dinner at $23.95. Fancy some Mongolian Beef, a Japanese Teriyaki, or some authentic Korean Okdol Bibimbab? They’ve covered the Asian culinary map on their menu. (Pro Tip: As is common at any “all you can eat restaurant,” Yuniki does not provide take-out boxes for any uneaten food ordered from the endless meal menu.)
I mention the endless menu because once I tasted of the amazing flavor of white tuna sashimi, I can’t imagine how they could possibly make money serving me. As in when I come back . . . again and again . . . and again, if only to order white tuna sashimi. The “mouth feel” of this fish is so extraordinary I could single handedly put white tuna on the endangered species list!
Our next choice of the signature Yuniku Special Roll, was again visually stunning. The spicy crunchy tuna, with avocado, topped with salmon and crunchy tobiko, arrives on a huge platter criss-crossed with savory soy, wasabi and spicy aiolis. The taste was fresh from the sea, and it was a treat painting each bite with a swipe of the various sauces. And that little bit of crunch with each bite? Sounds good to me!
The host/restaurant owner, Michael Dong, is in perpetual motion throughout the evening, visiting each table to ensure that everything is perfect for his treasured guests. More to the point, he personally visually inspects each dish coming out of the kitchen to make sure that the presentation is exactly as it should be. I can’t say enough about how much that matters, or how we patrons appreciate that kind of effort.
Having delighted our senses of sight, sound, sound and touch, our next dish tickled our sense of smell as the aroma wafted to the table before our dish even arrived.
The Teriyaki Chicken and Shrimp arrives bubbling and sizzling on a cast iron platter with fragrant aromas of the teriyaki sauce bathing the vegetables and proteins with a slightly sweet, tangy flavor. Normally, we find teriyaki sauce on its own to be much saltier, however, we learn from Michael that Yuniku’s chefs add a splash of sweet sake to their teriyaki, which slightly tempers the salty taste, leaving the teriyaki flavor intact. This recipe is absolutely perfect with the grilled flavor of the tender chicken and gulf shrimp. The vegetables, also grilled, are a big beneficiary of this yummy sauce, as each bite offers veggies in the cusp of fresh and crunchy, yet the flavor of the sauce is cooked through and through.
Now, while we didn’t think to take advantage of the “endless” menu, we enthusiastically forged ahead with a shared order of the N.Y. Strip Steak Hibachi entrée.
Again, so many of our senses were rewarded with this choice. The NY Strip this was prepared exactly as ordered, a tender medium rare, with just the right amount of char to reward the taste buds. The visual balance of color on the plate stimulated our appetites once again, the vegetables spot on in both freshness and flavor. One bite and it was our table uttering unbridled “wows” and “oh wow!”
It was then that we hoisted up the white flag of surrender. No doubt I could have found room for one more bite (because you can never have too much delicious, IMHO,) but common sense prevailed. At about five weeks in, Yuniku is one restaurant we look forward to recommending and returning to time and again.
While I’m at it, I’d also like to float the idea that the name “Yuniku” be adopted into the everyday vernacular. As in “how yuniku is that?” “It’s way yuniku!”
Makes sense, don’t you think?