Umu – London
There has to be a first time for everything. And this was my first Japanese meal – not counting sushi of course.
I was treated to a meal at Umu, the UK’s only Kyoto influenced restaurant – and what a treat it was. But then it does have a Michelin star.
It took me a while to get into the restaurant, tucked away in pretty Bruton Place, just off London’s New Bond Street. I found it easily enough, I just couldn’t get in. Till one kind office worker, who had obviously had to rescue other diners, told me to press the touchpad on the door, and as if by magic the door opened and I was inside an elegant, highly polished immaculate room oozing style and tranquillity with beautifully set tables and stunning floral arrangements.
Having first checked that I was happy to eat raw fish my lovely Japanese friend set about ordering. We started with a red miso soup which was followed by a slate exquisitely garnished and arranged with delicate wafers of a variety of raw fish. (I wasn’t so keen on the cuttle fish, but that was texture rather than taste.) Then arrived meltingly tender pink lamb served in a handsome deep dish, similarly the lobster in a coral sauce, alongside them beautiful sticky rice, silky-smooth homemade tofu and crisp vegetables. The meal was not only delicious, it was a feast for the eyes too. Unfortunately there was absolutely no room for one of the interesting desserts, some of them an intriguing blend of east meets west.
Umu has a good wine list, but do as we did and ask the lovely sommelier to recommend a glass or two of sake.
Umu, it turns out, means ‘born of nature’, certainly from eating the dishes the ingredients had to be of the best quality and freshness, but the dishes are also born out of the creative skills of award-winning and charming chef Yoshinori Ishii. And as for the provenance of the ingredients – he absolutely insists on the best.
My friend teased me about being unusually quiet during the meal, but even I could not talk and savour those fabulous flavours and textures at the same time.
Umu. 14-16 Bruton Place, London W1. Tel: 0207 499 8881