LFM: Umami …Unagi… Umi

From now on , I'm abbreviating Local Food Musing to LFM.

            I was pretty stressed when I got back from San Francisco. Aside from dealing with jet lag, I had a couple of orders to fulfill as well as take over a very high profile system at my day job. When I’m under a lot of pressure, I can’t eat. My appetite vanishes. All I am left with is a knot in my tummy telling me I’m starving, but after a couple of spoonfuls, I can eat no more.

            During times like this almost every cuisine makes my stomach turn. The oyster Po-boy I usually crave would make my nose twitch in disdain. Good for losing weight but very bad for my overall health and blood sugar. In all this turmoil, there is one cuisine that I usually turn to: Japanese!

Maybe it’s the lightness of the ingredients (if you do not count tempura) or maybe it’s the umami (also known as the 5th taste) of the dashi. For the rumblings of a picky belly, a nice hot bowl of miso soup always conjures up a heartening dish.

So, in between baking orders, I quickly checked myself in the mirror to make sure there was not enough confectioner's sugar on me to make me look like a geisha and dashed out to look for this relatively new restaurant called Umi located in front of the Short Pump Town Center on Broad Street. I could not find it at first and thought I would end up with Chick-Fil-A again. But I finally spotted the bistro after doing another pass through the area.

I was really craving Pork Katsudon but they did not have it on their menu so I settled for a shrimp tempura bento box which I rarely order because I felt that most of the other stuff that came with it was filler. To my surprise, the accompanying shrimp siumai tasted like it came from a bona fide dim sum place. The miso soup was definitely the best I’ve had in town – most Japanese restaurants couldn’t get it right and you usually end up with something that tasted like water and salt – this definitely had umami.

Okay… for someone who thought she lost her appetite, I also ordered two unagi (eel) sushi and a baby octopus salad. I preferred the baby octopus I get from Hana zushi restaurant in the downtown area…but the unagi…OMG was the bomb! It was slightly warm, crisp outside but the flesh just melted in your mouth. Did I mention that unagi was my favorite dish in Japanese restaurants? (okay so is Katsudon)

I had such a great meal there that I went back 2 more times in the past week and a half with the “Hungry” Hubby and a couple of friends.

I have had the plum duck, which I’ve seen on Messy Chef's restaurant review of Umi. It was delicious although I could have been happy with less plum sauce. The “Hungry” Hubby thought it did not taste like duck. I told him it definitely was duck and not go looking for the strong flavor of the Moulard or Muscovy because we were in an Asian restaurant and they definitely would have used a milder-flavored duck like Pekin.

We’ve also had an assortment of sushi and sashimi which were clearly very fresh and a seleciton of appetizers that was very good.

            I really did not like the garnishes that they put on their plates, some of which are very tall they can very well take out an eye. And they should probably train their staff to be attentive without being intrusive. A couple of times on my third visit our server kept on interrupting my conversation with my friend to a point that my friend and I got really …really annoyed.

            Other than that, I can’t wait to take my brother and his family to this place as I have spotted Uni (sea urchin) and Toro (fatty tuna) on their specials menu twice that I’ve been there. I’m going to reserve ordering that for special occasions.

8 thoughts on “LFM: Umami …Unagi… Umi

  1. That sounds fantastic. It is always such a thrill to find a new place you like, isn't it? I think I have walked into places with powdered sugar on my face before, certainly chocolate on my face!

  2. It's only 10am, and you've made me crave Japanese food! I think I may have to ignore my sandwich for lunch and get some sushi instead.

  3. My wife and I were excited to try out Umi when we noticed it opening. We are both sushi lovers and we enjoyed our meal. The place was definitely working out a few kinks, but we will look forward to going back there.

    We also enjoy Samurai quite a bit. Samurai is off of Nuckols Rd. in Twin Hickory and their sushi is quite excellent. A nice healthy dinner of sushi followed by a nice unhealthy dessert of Bruster's ice cream, LOL.


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