I was very excited to receive an invitation to review Umi. A fairly new kid on the block tucked away in a basement restaurant in Stockbridge. The entrance was enticing and the seats were quirky and authentic looking as you can see from the image above.
The interior is modern but with the traditional touches of Japanese lanterns. My dining partner and I are somewhat fascinated by Japan at the moment as we plan to visit for the first time next year! Shock horror though, I have NEVER actually been to a solely Japanese restaurant before and I’m not a lover of sushi so I was excited to see what else was on offer.
I kicked off our dining experience with a Hitachino Nest Beer, a white ale brewed with coriander, orange and nutmeg. A wheat beer, it reminded me of a Hoehaarden, it was a nice refreshing accompaniment to my meal.
The chicken & vegetable gyoza was delicious, it had a crisp topping that you had to break through to reveal the 5 pieces of pan friend soft dumplings served with a very tasty vinegar sauce. It’s safe to say that they were gobbled up in no time!
Next up was the Goruden Cod Finger, 3 pieces of crispy Scottish cod wrapped with kataifi pastry served with mango mayo. It looked so pretty the way it had been presented. We’d recently had kataifi pastry when we had prawns served with a wasabi dip whilst dining in a contemporary tapas restaurant in Lisbon. I love the crunchy crumbliness of the pastry so much I was eager to try it with the cod, but the sauce! The Mango mayo was incredible! I could have drunk it, it was sublime, sweet but thick and a fantastic accompaniment to the cod, it reminded me of an Indian mango lassi and from then on I was dipping the rest of my food into it because I couldn’t get enough!
The last of our starters arrived, the Kara-age Fried Chicken, essentially Japanese fried chicken served with lemon & mayo. Not the prettiest of dishes compared to the last two but not inoffensive. A great dish for anyone who’s maybe not that adventurous with trying Japanese food as what’s not to like about fried chicken and mayonnaise?
Gavin and I opted for two very different main dishes. He was all about the Sashimi, he went for the small sashimi set where a selection of raw fish is presented on a bed of ice, chef selected. He ended up with the tuna, salmon, octopus, prawns and scallops. I love him for that because that would be my worst nightmare, I’m getting better with cooked fish but for me I couldn’t have eaten this glorious looking plate of food but he said he loved it and was quite full afterwards.
I on the other hand was spoilt for choice with the amount of Ramen bowls on offer – Noodles In 20-hour pork bone broth. My decision swung from the veggie option (can also be made vegan) with tofu to the spicy Crazy Tonkotsu or Tantanmen. Luckily our lovely server was on hand, a Spanish girl, who recommended the Tonkotsu Ramen – Chashu Pork Belly, Soft Boiled Egg, Leeks, Sweetcorn & Sesame Seeds. It was to die for! It was hands down one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in a long time, the pork broth is just the right thickness and full of flavour with big tender pieces of pork belly. I felt warm and fully satisfied after my Ramen bowl, I couldn’t finish it, but I kept picking up my spoon and trying, just to savour the taste of the broth! I would recommend everyone try the Tonkotsu Ramen, especially with the colder weather coming in, it’s like a big hug in a bowl of deliciousness.
Umi was a delight, I’ve been telling everyone I meet to go, this little ‘blink and you miss it,’ basement restaurant in Stockbridge is a real find and I’ll definitely be back fo sure.
*I was invited for dinner to review Umi’s menu. Food was complimentary and drinks were bought by myself. All views are my own.