Sophisticated and quiet yet warm, Mayfair (Japanese) restaurant with elegant cuisine and corresponding price tags for its dishes.
This is my second visit to Umu after a four year absence and I was looking forward to seeing the change since its elevation to 2 Michelin stars in the 2016 guide. The produce on this visit was nothing short of exquisitely clean flavours and precise presentation. Although Japanese food is not my absolute favourite, one cannot deny the sheer perfection of preparation at this venue I have to say.
Particular highlights of this visit and meal were actually the little things such as a beautifully clean and refreshing yet not too salty soy sauce, the excellent foie gras canapé, truly wonderful pickled ginger which was not only refreshing to eat as a palate cleanser between each piece of Sushi as the Japanese do, I could have actually eaten a plate of it on its own as it was so tangy but light and sweet at the same time without being ludicrously over powering as they can be.
I was honoured that the Exec Chef who happened to be there produced specially sourced langoustine from his recent trip to the islands off the north coast of Scotland and a total pleasure to see the Exec Chef (Yoshironi Ishii) prepare his sushi and sashimi just opposite me from the counter position and to speak about various food preparation topics. The langoustines were sweet, plump and juicy and with the simple addition of treated, Japanese salt which, although looks obsenely too much in the photo, were actually somehow softened down and had the texture of soap flakes that were only very lightly salted in flavour. I asked, but he didn’t want to let his secret of how he makes these salt flakes away, and I don’t blame him as they were totally unique and wonderful.
Although I was very aware of the promotion, I entered with a completely neutral and open mind as always and overall I was delighted with this experience over my first visit as even the amuse bouche had so obviously been boosted a notch up since my first visit and these little things do really have a big impact. I didn’t feel the cucumber sauce with the Japanese fish and chips was hugely special however as the notable down side and the £145 with one glass of wine for the nibbles and selections I still think is far too high in price. You certainly get some wonderfully crafted food with very clean cut flavours, but I simply feel you have to absolutely adore Japanese food to merit the price tag, accepting that the ‘Ikejime‘ method of neutralising fish which is done here, adds to the unique level that food is prepared here.
The feel of this restaurant is slick and swanky but at the same time hsopitable and I liked the “mushay-mushen” greeting as you walk in which is a change from last time and I think helps the restaurant to lose formality and be more relaxed. A beautifully done meal overall and one I will try and go back for without waiting another four years….but possibly at the beginning of the month just for safety.
Food Grade: 83%
There is no doubt that this was a pleasant experience and there were some very nice options and I do recall how fresh the sushi and other raw fish options were. The only downside here is that it is almost unfair in that Japanese food does not really excite me as much as other cuisines, however, one can spot the difference between quality and freshness or not and this venue certainly had the right boxes ticked on quality of produce. Of note was the wild boar, which was brought to the table on skewers for you to cook on the volcanically hot brick that it sat on for you to cook your boar on to the level in which you like and that was original and fun.
The meat itself was succulent but did not etch its way in to my memories other than the pleasant theatre that it was. Another £100 per person meal with drinks that basically made me feel short-changed. Zuma in Knightsbridge is probably a better option for Japanese food as that has the bonus of a superb atmosphere and indeed ROKA in Canary Wharf has a similar feel if you are not too inconvenienced going in to the financial district of East London for a meal. The latter option is probably of most benefit though to those who live locally to Canary Wharf or those who are travelling in from the East counties to Liverpool Street station as a nice thing to do in getting glammed up and have a ‘stylish’ and trendy affair whilst looking for like minded & attractive clientele.
Food Grade: 69%
Location (Click google logo for directions)