Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Umai Umai

Nestled in a cozy corner in Fairmount, Umai Umai is easily the most oft-recommended for those seeking out sushi in the neighborhood. The BYO hot spot offers a sleek, intimate setting and serves some of the most creative flavors I've had outside of omakase. Chef Alex McCoy is most known for thinking outside of the box and deftly wrangles technique and flavor to provide his patrons with a bevy of inventive sushi rolls. 

Rollin' with Chef Alex McCoy of Umai Umai

Established in 2006, Umai Umai still maintains its 38 seats. Chef draws upon his international experiences and techniques honed under the likes of Morimoto and other sushi masters to offer up food that seems to embody his affable and unique personality. 

Clockwise from Top Left: Tamarind Chili Brussels Sprouts | Beef Carpaccio | Oyster Shooters

I stopped by for a media tasting this past Sunday night and we started off with a few favorites. Oyster shooters are a great way to kick off your night - Kumamotos (personal favorite!) were immersed in a citrus broth, with quail egg and marinated roe to be dropped right in. Enjoy the clean, bright flavors that meld upon mastication. It wasn't hard to see why the crispy brussels sprouts are a mainstay hit. The bitter, nutty notes of the halved brussels were nicely balanced by the sweet chili-tamarind soy glaze and hits of red onion and purple cabbage. Crispy shallots helped to provide additional heft to each bite, along with texture. A must order in my mind is the beef carpaccio. Subtly sweet and garlicky oil lightly sears the thinly pounded beef, with a crispy contrast in textures offered up by the accompanying ingredients. Easily one of my favorite bites.

From there, it was an onslaught of Chef McCoy's designer rolls. The Traffic Light is a visual stunner. Crispy soft-shell crab, avocado and spicy mayo is studded with wasabi, yuzu, and red tobiko, bursting with sweet salinity upon each bite. The Pingu's another favorite - deftly fried cream cheese and chive surrounding spicy red crab salad and topped with potato crunch. Eternal Sunshine was on my mind for sure - escolar (one of my favorites ... in doses of course) was fried, then topped with salmon, an apricot miso and blueberry balsamic, avocado, and crushed pine nuts. Sweetness to balance out the fattiness of escolar and salmon - I can see where you're going with this.

The Krakken's a delicious monster with shrimp tempura, eel, avocado, and soft-shell crab. It's topped with a cherry reduction and worcestershire aioli, along with almond bits sprinkled on top. As inventive as Chef McCoy gets with his designer rolls, restraint is shown when you look towards the simpler rolls you might typically find at other establishments. Case in point, spicy tuna wasn't indiscernably diced and the spicy mayo didn't inundate. The King Kong featured tuna, salmon, and yellowtail in larger, clean cuts, with only cucumber and avocado offering up a counterpoint. 

I'm looking forward to returning with the GF for a quiet BYO night. The crispy brussels and the beef carpaccio are definitely must orders. I'm also going to set my sights on a chirashi bowl and nigiri. And obviously, a few of the designer rolls will be on the hit list as well! 

FTC Disclaimer: I was invited to this media event by Plugin Rewind & Umai Umai. Regardless, my opinions are mine alone and, therefore, unbiased. 

Umai Umai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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