Ukiah Japanese Smokehouse sits across the street and adjacent to the Orange Peel in downtown Asheville. You know the spot, the one where it’s hard to keep up with what restaurant is currently there.
Loosely translated into English, Ukiah means, well, Ukiah. There really isn’t a definitive meaning to the word. Look at it backwards though, and it reads Haiku, and therein lies your meaning: structure and balance turned upside down, as the restaurant describes it.
More notable than the name are the credentials of the executive chef behind Ukiah. Dip into his resume and names such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Eric Ripert are impressively listed, among others.
The food is said to be inspired by the simplicity of Japanese soul food with influences from American BBQ. If you are having trouble visualizing what that would be, don’t think pulled pork tossed around by a chef on a hibachi. As entertaining as that sounds, the concept here is much more unique.
At its heart, the menu offerings are shareable, though you could easily find a dish or two to keep to yourself, such as one of the ramen or hot pot bowls. Otherwise, the dishes are small, and multiple items will be needed to feed your party.
Snacks kick off the menu. Think edamame or grilled shishito peppers, those items you grab up while sipping a cocktail. We merge into “crunchy and munchy” from there, only a few deep on this menu section, but look out for beech mushroom tempura