The last time I ate in Stockbridge was a quick stop at Kenji’s before a friend’s birthday bash earlier in the year. I enjoyed the food but was put off by the Deliveroo riders continually opening the door on a chilly night in late January. It detracted from the experience. IT was just too popular. So when the opportunity to visit their new sister restaurant, Umi, came up we were very interested.
Umi aims to build on Kenji’s reputation for good food with an environment which is more conducive to a relaxing evening. The layout & decor is wonderful, helping you forget that you are in a basement in Stockbridge and transporting you to a side street restaurant in downtown Tokyo. The tables sit in an open space between wooden posts supporting short wooden/grass awnings, and sliding paper shoji doors on the edge of the space. There’s a chef’s table in the back. Red lanterns lights the street scene.
The team were very welcoming and quickly ran us through the menu. The menu is not too long: classic variations around a key set of ingredients. I view this as a good thing: a menu of every possible option and ingredient makes you wonder how fresh all of it can be.
Edamame, maki, ramen
Our orders were taken quickly. Caroline ordered the truffle edamame, aubergine goma and, to my surprise, truffle ramen. The truffle edamame divided opinions: Caroline loved the good dose of truffle oil flavouring the pods and I thought it was too much.
The edamame was great. I liked the extra umami of the truffle oil. I’ve developed a bit of a truffle craving recently which is why, when I saw the ramen options, I went for truffle ramen too. But first, I thoroughly enjoyed the aubergine goma. Perfectly soft, sweetly miso sauced, utterly delicious. I scooped it all the flesh free of the skin and ate the chunks with chopsticks. I love well-cooked aubergine.
As always, I also had some of Christopher’s marillo roll. It was very tasty. And the veggie tempura – I had a rather good slice of aubergine.
I’d read up on Umi before we went and the comments I’d seen suggested the ramen was something special. So, in a shocking departure of my usual habits – sashimi, softshell crab roll, avocado hand roll, takoyaki, gyoza – I had ramen. Noodle dishes are organised according to broth and I went for a light chicken broth (deep and flavourful). The noodles had perfect bite, delicate mushrooms resting on a generous slice of pork, a dollop of truffle paste offering nice hits of deep flavour. A nori sheet sat on the side of the bowl, slowly soaking up the broth. Half a soft-yolked egg tempted. It was a very satisfying bowl.
I had the avocado maki (6 pcs), marillo roll, and the vegetable tempura. The avocado maki was simple, creamy and delicious. A great way to re-engage my taste buds after the edamame. The marillo roll was an interesting combination of tastes and textures. The rolls had a lovely light and creamy flavour, with a good crunch from the crispy shizo leaf and asparagus. I had some reservations about the marillo sauce, but definitely enjoyed the dish and would recommend it. The vegetable tempura was excellent. The batter was light and the emphasis was on the tasty vegetables inside. It made me very happy.
We decided to share a mochi with black sesame ice cream. The ice cream inside the frozen mochi was lovely – creamy with hits of sesame, but not too sweet. To me, the pleasure of moochi is the glutenous texture of the shell which is lost in the freezing. I would still recommend it for the black sesame ice cream.
Umi has not been open long but they have already hit their stride with a good balance of classic flavours, interesting variations, great service and a wonderfully evocative environment. I recommend visiting soon as Umi is good and will become very popular very soon.
18-24 Deanhaugh Street
Edinburgh, EH4 1LY
Telephone: 0131 3436991
Facebook: umiedinburgh |
Christopher and Caroline ate at Umi at their invitation.