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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.
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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.
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.
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
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.
27 September 2012
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