Umu
Umu
Umu
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SquareMeal Review of Umu

Gold Award

Forget maki rolls from Prêt, the best Japanese food is a heart-stopping mix of finesse and flavour – and there are few better places to try it than Umu. Touching the discreet door button allows diners access to a luxurious two-Michelin-starred enclave with a “cool vibe” and hints of Zen-like purity.

There are bento box lunches or diet-friendly sashimi for those wanting a quick fix, but we recommend the full kaiseki menu, a multi-course seasonal tour de force that takes a couple of hours to consume and is worth every minute of your time.

Head chef Yoshinori Ishii is a perfectionist when it comes to ingredients and techniques, even showing his fishermen how to humanely handle line-caught fish (the ancient Japanese method of ‘ike jime’). He also creates his own unique tableware and presents guests with wood-block printed poems.

The kaiseki banquet begins with tantalizing ideas ranging from cured white river fish with ginger, caviar and a ball of grated radish and wasabi to a clear soup brimming with rich umami flavours. To follow, there might be seaweed-stuffed Japanese aubergine, a sashimi course, and a refreshing dish of cold soba noodles with salty bottarga and dashi jelly.

After that, Cornish lobster is dismantled to eat in just three bites with Japanese lemon and coral sauce, while a chunk of Welsh lamb is theatrically cooked over a charcoal grilled at your table and presented in four parts with daring seasoning. Keep going. Next up might be some elegant sushi and, finally, a dessert of roasted barley with raspberry sorbet – plus macarons and chocolates if you’re still hungry.

With “perfect saké pairings” and spectacular wines also on offer, dining at Umu is unashamedly glamorous, but also slightly daunting – although super-helpful staff are on hand to guide even the most tentative guests through this “completely magical experience”.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
Japanese, Sushi
Ambience
Glamorous
Other Awards
Two michelin stars
Special Features
Counter dining
People
Special occasions

Location for Umu

14-16 Bruton Place, London, London, W1J 6LX

020 7499 8881

Website

Opening Times

Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 6-11pm

Reviews of Umu

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11 Reviews 
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Service
Atmosphere
Value

Ms/Mrs. Elizabeth B

Terrible
21 October 2018  
No idea how they have two Michelin stars. So terrible - they had no lobster and couldn’t explain the very confusing menu. The appetisers were bland and we ordered champagne that never arrived. We left after the appetisers as were so un inspired.
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AmyM

06 May 2014  
As I have a personal loathing for all things Nobu, I was looking forward to the good things that I have heard about Umu. Considering we were in attendance on a Friday night, it was eerily quite (despite being only able to book at 2115) and it emptied out even more quickly, which kind of spoilt the ambience somewhat. The food is good, delivered at a nice pace and beautifully presented, but I would say it's not as tasty as Zuma and doesn't come close to Aqua Kyoto. With one bottle of sake and a brandy the £350 for the two of us seemed a lot. The service is lovely, but there is nothing that makes me want to run back with friends or lovers. Back to Zuma it is.
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Ms/Mrs. Katie O

My favourite restaurant
22 February 2013  
My boyfriend took me here for my birthday as he knows I love any type of asian restaurant, this however was something else. We got out of the cab in Mayfair Square, he walked me down this dark back street. I asked if he was sure he had the right street as nothing appeared to be at the end. Then he pressed a little button on the wall that said Umu and it was like the gateway to the East opened up. I loved the theatre of it. The service was spectacular from start to finish, we were treated impeccably, food arrived promptly along with wine. Now I have to admit the prices are astronomical, hence the reason we cannot return every Saturday, but (even if I had been paying myself) it was completely worth it for the amazing culinary experience. We enjoyed some beautifully delicate sushi picked from the menu and also asked the chef to surprise us with a couple of creations. I cannot remember the name of what he gave us but I do remember that it was the best sushi I have ever eaten. The waggu beef served to cook at the table on hot stones was superb, the black cod and lobster I can only describe as indescribable. I normally dont expect much in terms of desserts at asian restaurants but I was wowed with a refreshing green tea cake with sorbet. I cannot wait to go back… after saving up a bit
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Ms/Mrs. Jamal R

04 February 2013  
Umu was a very pleasant atmosphere with dim lighting and reflective surfaces and mirrors everywhere. Service was excellent on a saturday evening. I found the food to be good overall. If i were to return, I would order the following: tuna tartare salad at £20, smallest steak £40 and a piece or two of the toro sushi. On this first trip to Umu, we ordered a variety of dishes including grilled eel (honestly not great 5/10 in taste), sashimi platter which was good compared to other restaurants – tuna, salmon and mackeral were the best of the lot) and a couple of other dishes including excellent wagyu steak and grilled lobster in a sauce – £40 for most main dishes. Wagyu steak and toro sushi were worth the trip to this restaurant!! Two people dinner + 1 bottle of wine £45 came to £300 including 1 starter, 1 vegetable, smaller sashimi platter, 3 mains, 2 pieces of toro sushi and 1 dessert. All dishes are pretty small in size.
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Ms/Mrs. Sandra E

27 September 2012  
Simply fabulous!
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Mr. Francois L

02 December 2011  
I had diner again at Umu, and it confirmed my opinion: very average. Nice setup, extensive sake list, but sushis are so so. The traditional ones are ok, but not fantastic. The modern ones are disappointing. In particular, never order fois gras sushis or aburis, they arrive cold on your dish (even if at sushi bar). Starters are fine, but nothing fantastic. Main courses vary in quality. When I mentioned to the manager that I thought the diner tonight was so so, he asked whether it was because I had to pay the bill !! Poor guy… I have been to places in Japan where the bill was a multiple of Umu's, and the food was much better. I also have been to places in London for a fraction of Umu's, and the food was also much better. Honestly, I think Kiku next door is less posh, but a much better food quality.
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Ms/Mrs. Kirsty J

19 August 2010  
Umu is a great restaurant – whether you sit in the main restaurant or at the sushi counter. We sat at the counter and it's always fascinating to see the sushi chefs at work. We had a selection of traditional and ‘modern’ pieces and they were all delicious. The service matches the excellent food.
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Mr. Richard E

04 August 2010  
I really don't mind spending good money on top restaurants. I don't even mind the meal taking hours, but here the bill was stratospherically high and the pace at which the food arrived was more dead slug than live snail. When it did arrive, the food was gorgeous; the Kaseiki menu offers lots of small, beautifully prepared, beautifully presentated and subtle tasting morsels. The trouble is, you need a hamburger between each course to stave off the hunger pangs, and could easily have time to go and get one from the nearest Burger King, which is, I am reliably informed, in Barnes. Matching with wine too was a mistake – it seemed like such a good idea at the time; lots of different wines and sake to go with the different flavours to which they are perfectly suited. The trouble is, the wine for the next course came immediately after the previous course had been cleared away, so you either sat there thirsty as well as hungry, or drank it in the interminable wait and then had nothing to complement the food. Yes, we could have come on an off night, but at these prices you cannot afford to have an off few minutes, let alone a whole night. Unlike some places where the whole experience puts you off, the food was just so good (and the Calpis Martini so unlike it sounds as though it should be), I would go back. this time, I'd sit at the sushi counter though and order as I went along. That way I could make a swift exit if the food was not so swift in arriving.
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Ms/Mrs. joselyn K

21 August 2009  
£500 for 3 people with reasonable wine?!! For that money we should have gone to Nobu. And what Japanese restaturants doesnt serve Maki? I will never return or recommend this place.
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Ms/Mrs. Elizabeth G

05 May 2009  
Went there myself some time ago, the food was delicious and presented in a most beautiful way. The waiteress was exquisitely nice and polite, and took the time to properly explained every dish served. Sake is fantastic, best in London. After that, a group of my colleagues went for private dining there on three different occasions, and after each one have nothing but brilliant feedback. The restaurant actually make an effort to remember loyal clients, and they took care to offer them different food each time ("oh, we do remember that last time you liked this – try this one now" etc). One of the colleagues is highly allergic to seafood and fish – they made awesome vegetarian sushi for her, with no fish/seafood/seaweed which were absolutely divine. Overall, highly recommended!
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