The rise and fall of LoHi’s Uncle.
2215 W. 32nd Ave.
The petite dining room and deftly executed East-meets-West menu offer a homegrown expression of
the national ramen trend.
Service has slipped from informal to incompetent.
Canned sake, sesame pancakes, shrimp buns, chile mazemen, spicy chicken ramen, bibimbap
Small plates and buns, $3 to $14; noodle and rice bowls, $13 to $15. Street parking. Open for dinner Monday through Saturday. Reservations not taken.
The night I fell for Uncle, the almost-one-year-old noodle shop in LoHi, I fell hard. My chopsticks tangled with delicate noodles and Manila clams. I sipped long-simmered broth from brimming spoons. I devoured sesame pancakes folded over crispy duck tendrils like tacos. I ordered a whiskey cocktail with lemon-honey foam from a concise list that included the difficult-to-find Echigo Stout and canned honjozo sake. I took in the energetic, generationally diverse crowd of neighbors and destination diners. That evening, tucked inside the tiny, wooden space, was practically flawless. Uncle—and owner Tommy Lee’s high-voltage riffs on Eastern flavors dashed with Western playfulness—swept me up and left me smitten.
One of the most impressive elements that first evening was the restaurant’s perfect union of laid-back yet informed service. Servers—clad in T-shirts, jeans, and, occasionally, almost-backwards baseball caps—didn’t include a have-you-been-here-before shtick. Nor did they recite a monologue about Lee’s Chinese-American origins and the time he’s spent in Hong Kong. The staff either assumed I knew how to slurp my noodles or entrusted that I would ask.