Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Umami: Combining Fresh Asian Flavors with a Neat Twist of French Flair

A few weeks ago, I attended the press dinner for Umami, a trendy new Asian restaurant located in Rotterdam. The third Umami, in fact. There's also a branch in Den Haag and one in Utrecht. This brand new location welcomed its first visitors just a little over a year after the opening of the first Umami. Indisputable proof of the concept's success. 
Upon entering the restaurant, its sleek, modern setting and sense of spaciousness are the first things that catch the attention. Simple, rectangular white tables are paired with brightly colored, cushioned, round-backed dining chairs. Along with the dome-shaped, open lamps, these touches add both movement and light while softening the interior. The gentle, subdued illumination makes it the perfect place for a relaxing dinner or a post-work drink paired with a wide variety of tasty palate pleasers. Something Umami excels at.
After an assortment of artistic amuses, we are treated to a symphony of stunning, carefully prepared dishes. Each one more flavorful and interesting than the next. Especially pleasing is the beef salad with its thinly sliced raw tenderloin served with a sweet soy-vinaigrette dressing. Another winner is the Chinese bacon bits paired with diced apple and beetroot. All of the characteristic flavors and textures in this creation manage to shine through while at the same time coming together in perfect harmony. Perhaps the most thrilling of all are the panko-breaded fried coquilles- tender, sweet and heaven in one tiny mouthful. 
And then there's the price, which at Umami happens to be as friendly as the service. For a modest €19, 95 you can enjoy a three-course dinner full of pure, clean flavors and for lunch or drinks, you can order the Umami plateau consisting of four dishes with a carafe of wine for only €14,95.
In case you were wondering, in Japan, Umami is the fifth taste sensation, after sour, salty, sweet and bitter. Literally, it also means 'delicious' or 'fresh'. There's no doubt that Umami offers diners exactly what it represents.

Umami: Binnenrotte 140 Rotterdam / Oudegracht 74 Utrecht / Buitenhof 46 Den Haag

*Photography courtesy of Anastasia Malkin.

No comments: