You can’t miss the UMI sign, it stands out prominently on Deanhaugh Place pointing you to head underground to the basement restaurant of Umi. Decend down the cool stairs from the bustling street and be transported to a quiet street in Japan (if there is such a thing).
As soon as you close the door behind you, you block out the hustle and bustle from the street above and are greeted by instrumental Japanese music melodies filling the air.
The seating is a mixture of a street food setup with tables and chairs under awnings, cute fake tiled roofs complete with gutters and traditional shoji doors separating another eating space at the entrance. It has a very welcoming and calm feeling about it.
Sat underneath the awning, our tables are simply set. Chopsticks, bowls and soy sauce. The menu is fairly straight forward but with some superb variations of classic ingredients.
Started off with Tuna Tartare – sliced seared tuna with miso and shimeji mushroom.
The tuna was lightly seared giving off a slightly chargrilled flavoured only enhanced by the cooked shimeji mushrooms with their deep intense nutty flavour then backed up with miso which is umami in every sense of the word.
Beautiful bites of salty, earthy, savoury, beefy tuna.
A must for me is the gyoza. These are Chicken and Vegetable Gyoza, pan fried and served with spicy vinegar sauce.
However these are known as Gyoza with Wings or Hanetsuki Gyoza. They are traditional gyoza connected with a crisp sheet of fried starch made out of flour and water. Delicious dumplings filled with juicy savouriness.
Mini Foie Gras Don – Japanese boiled rice topped with pan fry duck liver with eel sauce (usually a blend of mirin, sugar, dashi, and sake).
Never would I have thought I would eat foie gras but I do love lambs liver and this was a million times tastier.
The foie gras has a rich and deep earthy minerally taste but its beefy and creamy with a smooth texture that melts in your mouth.
Karage Fried Chicken – Japanese Fried chicken served with lemon and mayo.
This is one of my favourite Japanese dishes because it is so simple. These were super hot large chunks of tender chicken pieces.
Dynamite Roll 6pcs – Soft shell crab tempura , salmon, avocado and jalapeno roll topped with tempura flake, teriyaki sauce and spring onion.
I was a little reluctant to eat this as I’m not keen on jalapenos and thought this might be too hot n spicy for me; but actually the jalapenos provided a very light kick at the end of each bite which was an essential part of the overall flavour. Scrumptious – you’ll want to order another roll.
Oceans 5 Rainbow Roll – Snow crab meat, avocado and cucumber roll topped with salmon, tuna, prawn, avocado, white fish and seaweed powder.
Most definitely a rainbow on a plate. Each piece the perfect size for popping the whole section into your mouth, allowing all the flavours from each ingredient to work so well together.
Another first for me – the Soft Shell Crab Tempura.
I wasn’t sure what to expect here. Would the shell be crunchy? chewy? In fact you wouldn’t even know that you are eating through shell. The tempura was light and fluffy as it should be, and the crab sweet with a light crunch to it. Would I eat it again? most definitely.
An off menu dish. Chef brought us this out to try and its going on the new menu which I think might be out already. Basically this is large cod fish fingers covered in thin rice noodles and deep fried. Insanely good but its the mango mayonnaise that it is served with that truly makes this dish. It is incredible and if I could I would eat everything with this. It’s sweet, creamy and custard mayo like but enhances the lightness of the cod. Freaking delish!
Then there was the Truffle Ramen.
Black truffle oil with a light chicken broth, topped with pork shoulder chashu (slow cooked pork), Aji-tama soft boiled egg, shimeji mushrooms, nori seaweed and truffle paste.
Presentation was outstanding and the aroma from this is unbelievable. The noodles are perfect and supplied in abundance, the broth light but deep with the flavours from the slow cooked pork. Another outstanding dish that screams umami!
Umi has definitely made it to the top of my list of eateries you have to visit whilst in Edinburgh. The whole dining experience is superb. The staff are friendly and attentive but it has a very relaxed easy going atmosphere. Sit back and tuck into some amazing healthy, hearty food.
Umi Japanese Cuisine, 18 Deanhaugh Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh. Tel : 0131 3436991 www.umiedinburgh.com
My Spoon Award : TartanSpoon 10/10
I was invited to review the menu by Umi Edinburgh. Food and drink were complimentary but the views are very much my own.