Upstream in Phillip's Place shopping center has been a SouthPark staple for some time, but the restaurant ushered in a new era this year with the arrival of Gene Kato as Partner and Executive Chef. This is a coming home for Kato, a native Charlottean who began his restaurant career at Upstream 15 years ago. He has spent the bulk of his career prior to this point working in renowned Chicago restaurants like Ohba, Japonais, and Sumi, the final two of which he opened.
Kato's return to Charlotte as Upstream's Chef has significantly changed the traditional American-style seafood menu the restaurant has maintained for years. The seafood is just as fresh, but now the menu has a Pacific Rim flare, and includes robata dishes, ramen, and a full sushi menu.
We were invited out for a tasting back in May, and we were absolutely blown away by everything we tasted.
Soymilk, pickled shimeji mushrooms, ikura & fried ginger
Tomato, pickled onion, & smoked soy
Baked King Crab Gunkan
Banana-leaf wrapped, tomato chutney, & mango papaya
Pork Belly Ssam
Roasted pork belly, pickled daikon, kimchi, Thai chili salt
Strawberry jelly, freeze dried strawberry, & strawberry puree
Chocolate-filled donuts with green tea semi-freddo mousse
Upstream recently rolled out a weekend brunch menu, which we can't wait to check out.
Check out their wide variety of sake, wine, beers, and cocktails. The world is your oyster when it comes to drinks at Upstream.
The interior remains unchanged from recent years. Some of the decor is slightly dated, but the dining room is large, and there is a nice patio for cooler days.
On this visit and on previous visits, we have always received great service at Upstream. Zero complaints.
Pugs love cooking on a hot rock; All tofu should be as delicious at Kato's homemade tofu; We once saw Riverboat Ron dining with Pat McCrory at Upstream during restaurant week, and we may or may not have geeked out a little; The pork belly reminded us of David Chang, and we love to be reminded of Chang at all times; I want to buy 50 of those sorbet cups for my personal use.
Disclaimer: This meal was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are our own, and we were not compensated for this review.