umi, edinburgh, review

| invited for review |

Edinburgh stalwart Kenji has recently opened another restaurant in Stockbridge; where Kenji is known for its sushi, Umi is fast becoming famed for its ramen.

Heading down the steps from the main strip of Stockbridge “high street”, the restaurant is furnished as simply as you would expect from a Japanese establishment. Turn right, you can drop down into a shoji partitioned seating area or turn left and sit beneath a slightly ramshackle but charming canopy. Natural materials and simplistic furnishing let the food do the talking.

Inside, we found one waiter practically hovering above the floor, moving at such speed as was required to manage the full 38 cover restaurant… by himself! Despite him dealing with a full house on his own, he seemed undaunted (and other reviews have hinted that this is not an uncommon occurrence here) and was flitting from table to table, clearing plates, taking orders and delivering steaming bowls to eager looking customers.

On his recommendation, we went for the yellowfin carpaccio – thinly sliced fresh, chilled pieces of yellowfin tuna with a grape puree and a ponzu sauce.

Then on the recommendation of just about everyone else – my trusted and learned colleagues Plate Expectations, Tartan Spoon and Enhance Edinburgh among others – we had to go for the truffle ramen. A rich broth enhanced with the wonderful flavour of truffle, topped with tender chashu pork and the obligatory sweetcorn, nori, leeks, shimeji mushrooms which have a slightly pickled flavour and gorgeous chewy noodles. Was it hyped too much? Maybe a little. But there was a lot of hype and we did thoroughly enjoy every last drop.

Simply executed, the spicy tuna maki was enjoyable but the green dragon roll was delicious. I think my favourite sushi will always involve tempura prawn wrapped up inside perfectly cooked sushi rice and this one was topped with fresh avocado, fish roe and drizzled in an eel sauce. We felt we were being quite adventurous, neither of us having had anything eel related before, but really it was just a flavoursome sauce which complimented the sushi.

I’ve tried karaage chicken in a few places now so I feel qualified to say that this has been my favourite so far – using the brown meat from chicken meant it was juicy on the inside and lovely and crispy on the outside. You know sometimes when you have to check the meat to make sure it’s cooked because it’s too succulent?! Well, this was one of those times and it was cooked – to perfection.

The meal was lovely and everything tasted fresh and made with love and expertise.

The waiter did his best to serve everyone and was joined by a second waiter about halfway through our meal and one of the chefs came out of the kitchen at one point to clear some tables. We did wait for drinks and had to remind him about the karaage chicken but I certainly wouldn’t say that it impeded our meal in any way. If the restaurant keeps going the way it’s going, they’ll hopefully learn that they are going to be as busy as they deserve to be and hire some more staff!

I was invited for a complimentary meal for the purpose of a review but as always, all thoughts, opinions and writings are entirely my own and have in no way affected the honesty or authenticity of this review.

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