SquareMeal Review of
The feel-good factor kicks in the moment guests touch the discreet door button, revealing this Kyoto-style kaiseki enclave in all its Zen-like purity – although you may be distracted by the smiley keen-as-mustard staff shouting their words of greeting. Two-Michelin-starred Umu is strictly old-school and chef Yoshinori Ishii’s attention to detail is legendary – whether he’s teaching his Cornish fishermen the Japanese ways, organising supplies of organic wasabi or fashioning handcrafted tableware for the restaurant. He’s responsible for every aspect of the food and leaves himself no room for error. Not surprisingly, the results are extraordinary: featherlight kombu-cured mullet with chrysanthemum and sudachi; gloriously limpid ‘nimonowan’ soup delicately garnished with autumn ‘leaves’ made from chanterelles and carrots; omakase fish platters with an astonishing variety of textures and flavours. Make it through to dessert for a construct of fig, sesame, chocolate and sesame that appears to defy the laws of physics, before coffee with hybrid Euro-Japanese petits fours. Wines are worthy of the food, but adventurous cocktails and saké seem more appropriate. Dining at Umu is an unforgettable experience, and (for those picking up the tab) so is the bill.