Review: Umi

7 March 2017

It was an exhausting afternoon trekking through Tama Cemetery, which is large and a bit out of town. Lucky my dinner wasn’t until late tonight, as Umi didn’t have a space until 9pm. I was still in a bit of pain from that ugly wipe-out on some marble…

I got to the 2-Michelin sushiya just before 9pm and it was empty. I guess they did seatings and ran everyone at the same time. But everyone arrived pretty much on time and they started the service. A bit energetic I must say, as the shouting reminds me too much of a modern US kitchen, full of orders being repeated by everyone…

Honestly felt a bit squeezed at the edge of the sushi bar, but that’s life… First up was some seaweed topped by uni.

01-uni seaweed

Nice start, essence of the sea. Then we start full force with a piece of chu-toro sushi…

02-chu-toro

Talk about mixing things up, a beautiful piece of bluefin belly. Just melt-in-your-mouth stuff. Wow. Then a bit down hill…

03

Hmmm, flavoured a bit oddly from the cooking, couldn’t pin it down. Then we get a skewer of hotaru-ika (firefly squid).

hhh

Love these things, these were especially good. Then the weird mix-up continues with another sushi, aji (horse mackerel).

05-aji

Not bad, and the progression kept us on our toes with the next item, grilled menuke (rockfish).

06-menuke

Very good, full of oily flavour. I enjoyed picking off the flesh from the bones as those were the tastiest bits. Nice! Then torigai (surf clam).

07-torigai

Good, though chef did a huge production whacking these clams into shape. There’s a lot of showmanship here, perhaps some of the appeal. But that didn’t work quite for me. More booze…and more fish.

08-kampachi

Ugh…this was an awful kampachi (yellowtail). I was shocked. Terrible quality fish, no taste, horrible texture. What happend? Sigh… Anyway, next up some tako (octopus).

09-tako

Not bad, tho not as good as lunch today. Next up was some custard with crab…

10-custard with crab

Meh to be honest. A few poor items in a row and I was taking down the sake a bit faster. Next up, shiroebi (white shrimp).

11-shiroebi

Beautiful but never one of my favourites… Then a rather novel way of serving uni at a top sushiya

12-uni

It’s kinda a fish market way of serving it, and it was pretty good. Then another weak dish…

13-katsuo

Marinated katsuo (bonito), really boring. The flavours did not get into the fish. Really disappointing… What’s going on, have we peaked? I was starting to worry… Then we have sumi-ika (cuttlefish).

14-sumi-ika

Oh dear the rice was horrible on this piece. What happened all of a sudden? Sigh… So far not so good… Then we continue on…

15

At this point I was just concerned but soon we shift back to seriousness with some nairagi (striped marlin).

16-nairagi

Excellent stuff, finally the fish is winning. Then we get some tsuke

17-tsuke

The marinated lean tuna was far better than the horrible marinated stuff earlier but still pretty meh. Then the o-toro

18-o-toro

Really good, but preferred that chu-toro that came early in the meal. A few of my fellow diners (Americans) were gushing very vocally… In any case, then the usual follow-up kohada (gizzard shad).

19-kohada

Meh-ish, but then the next piece was fabulous — saba (mackerel).

20-saba

Lovely stuff, one of the best pieces of the night. At this point everyone was watching them clean the kurumaebi (prawn), as these were monstrous sized…

21c-kurumaebi

Some sushiyalike Masuda — breaks these things into 2 pieces but they made it huge…again, for show. Terribly hard to eat like that. It’s all a show here…

I gobbled the monster down and took a big swig of sake and looked at the clock…last trains are just around midnight, but things are moving pretty well, thank goodness. This meal wasn’t worth missing the last train for, to be honest… Then some uni.

22-uni

Excellent Hokkaido stuff, tasty. Then we’re at an end with the hamaguri.

23-hamaguri

Wee bit of sauce and we are at the close. Tamago

24-tamago

And an unexpected eel roll…

25

And the course was done. They asked if we wanted anything else, and most diners asked for one of the toro. My first two choices were nixed as they supposedly ran out…then why are you serving it to locals? Fine. I asked for a saba (mackerel) and the bill.

An expensive late night sushi, and it was again mixed. Some highlights, like the opening chu-toro and the menuke, as well as the nairagi. But there were some really awful items like the kampachi. Too much show here, from the shouting to the obese kurumaebi.

I for one find this sushiya a once-and-done, as it didn’t impress me as much as others. I don’t need a show. I need solid stuff. But when there’s issues with rice (tho not as much as lunch at Ichiyanagi) and especially with fish (that horrible kampachi) it’s not worth trying again. I have limited time in Tokyo and it’s never good to leave dinner with mixed feelings.

Made the late train with plenty of time and frankly if I wasn’t so tired I’d go somewhere, but I was still in pain from that damn wipe-out… Ugh…

Umi [海味]
3-2-8 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku
Tokyo, Japan

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One thought on “Review: Umi

  1. Pingback: Review: Miyaba | melhuang1972

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