Ate at Umami!

Where are you eating and what do you think? What's opening, closing, succeeding, failing?
swoon_queen
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby swoon_queen » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:26 am

Our first experience with Umami (last week) was fantastic! We had the spring roll, pork buns, dumplings, and ramen, along with a few sake cocktails.

The pork buns were a standout. Confession: I've tried pork buns probably 3 other times, after hearing people rave about them, and never understood the appeal. Umami must get them right, because that was the first time I thought: all those pork bun fanatics are on to something. Of all the food we sampled, the ramen was my least favorite.Not that it wasn't good; in fact, it was quite good/tasty and I'll definitely try it again--it just didn't strike me as anything special the way the apps did. Though with such decent prices for a hearty bowl of food, it doesn't have to be special.

Loved the service, and the atmosphere, and looking forward to trying more of the cocktails. I'm happy that something exists to fill the void Kushi Bar Muramoto left.

acereraser
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby acereraser » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:40 pm

We ate there last night, and I looking forward even more to my next visit. I haven't enjoyed pork buns in the past, as they are usually too sweet for my tastes, but Umami gets the balance just right. I really liked my pork ramen as well, but my love of noodles might have me biased. I wish they were on the square so I could have a bowl for lunch.

We opted for two appetizers instead of trying the dumplings. I liked the tuna poke just as much as the pork buns, maybe more. The dumplings may have to wait for our third visit, because I enjoyed all the dishes we tried so much, I want to have them all again. That's the sign of a good restaurant, I think.

aimless
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby aimless » Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:16 pm

Ate at Umami a couple of weeks ago. It was very busy so we sat at the bar. My friend and I shared a large order of the veggie gyoza and a veggie ramen with an addition of BBQ pork. We both enjoyed it immensely. The portions were generous and pretty to look at.

The dumplings (gyoza)were light and the filling had a lovely flavor. The soup had a rich broth with plenty of ramen noodles and vegetables. I am always concerned that the broth will be too salty but it was just right.

The bartender was really working her butt off. She was apologetic about having us wait while she filled the orders of the servers. In the end she did not charge us for the drinks which I felt was a good move. The drinks were uninspired.

I loved the look of the restaurant. Low lighting, modern and "hip". Despite the music I could have a conversation with my friend without yelling.

I hope folks will frequent this restaurant particularly now during the Willy St construction. The restaurant needs a better sign. It is too easy to miss.

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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby greeneyedlady » Tue May 03, 2011 8:51 am

Aimless, they have added an additional sandwich-board type sign that also notes there is parking in back. I agree--good idea.

I dig Umami. The pork buns are great, as are the tuna poke and the tonkatsu, among other things. Can't go wrong with pork belly, really!

evansvillehousewife
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby evansvillehousewife » Sat May 07, 2011 8:09 am

I'm offended that he paid $75 at a ramen station and called it fair!!! $7.50 maybe, but $75 for a meal that probably cost $3 to make? With shitty service?
Could have driven to Mitsuwa and saved $50, even with current gas prices.

Ducatista
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby Ducatista » Sun May 08, 2011 11:09 am

I love Mitsuwa, but suggesting a chain mini-mall in IL over a new neighborhood restaurant is just lame.

Parintachin
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby Parintachin » Fri May 27, 2011 1:23 pm

Okay, my Bride and I stopped in there a few weeks back. I've never been to Japan or had "real" ramen before but I have heard that the stock is supposed to be the heart of the dish. It was good but REALLY salty which makes me suspect that it's a powdered base instead of an honest stock.

Ramen is a everyday, economical classic in Japan, it occupies the same economic niche as a blue plate special or a bar burger. You're paying for skill not fancy ingredients. I know, because it's exotic, it's a treat for us here a couple thousand miles away but it chaps my ass that what is a five dollar bowl of noodles in Japan is a $15 (with add ins) meal here.

It was good but not great. The much touted dumplings were not good. Would not order them again. Doughy steamed bread with hard to contain contents. Not a flavor sensation.
Last edited by Parintachin on Fri May 27, 2011 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

boston_jeff
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby boston_jeff » Fri May 27, 2011 3:14 pm

Liked the pork buns and the poke I tried. The ramen wasn't bad, but for 12 bucks I'll take it down to Ha Long Bay and get a more substantial Pho for almost half the price. The ramen was just salty enough, but the bowl is a bit small and there were only a few pieces of pork. Obv nothing like the ramen bowls you get in Japan (nor do I expect it to be), yet pretty good and we liked the cocktail menu and decor. But it wasn't so amazing that I am yearning for a repeat visit for a bowl that size...especially since I am lazy and HLB is right on my block and much cheaper.

I do wish them success--the night I was there the place was packed.

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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby TheBookPolice » Fri May 27, 2011 10:13 pm

If we're talking tout, the pork buns get a lot more pop than the dumplings--which I agree are nothing too special. But the Umami pork buns' credentials are well-deserved. They blow Graze's away, most nights.

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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby Ducatista » Sat May 28, 2011 2:20 pm

boston_jeff wrote:The ramen wasn't bad, but for 12 bucks I'll take it down to Ha Long Bay and get a more substantial Pho for almost half the price.

Can't believe I haven't eaten at HLB yet. Umami, either. It's just too easy to walk to dinner on the Square or State Street. If we still lived on Spaight, we'd probably have our own table at HLB.

Speaking of Willy St restaurants, what's up with Bahn Thai? Hadn't eaten there in ages, got delivery a few months ago. MAJOR step down from the curry-peanutty goodness I remember. Wrote that one off as a fluke, but the next order was equally disappointing. And the next. Not keen on trying again.

yesferatu
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby yesferatu » Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:20 pm

You get what you pay for at Umami.
I have been going there almost weekly since they opened.
The noodles are made a block away at RP's and they are fantastic.
Last I checked, they had a 100% on Urban Spoon.

If you're not comfortable dropping $50+ for two, you might want to think twice. It's unique and Madison is lucky to have it.
I do frequent Ha Long Bay, and could eat there 29 days of the month, on the day I don't...I would go to Umami.

Yes, they are expensive.
Yes, you're dropping $12 on soup.
Yes, it is worth every penny.

Alan!
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby Alan! » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:29 am

I ate at Umami a while back and didn't really dig it.

We ordered the pork buns, tuna poke, dumplings, and ramen. We wanted to try a bit of everything.
First off the pork buns, although not authentic by any means, were fantastic, well executed, great flavor. A great start to what seemed like a fantastic dinner.
Next, we got the tuna poke and pork dumplings . The tuna poke was cut incorrectly and still contained the bloodline. Leaving the bloodline in tuna is a huge mistake by any standard.
The dumplings were a let down too as they had the same taste and consistency similar to ones you would buy from any asian grocery store.
The ramen came up shortly after that. We elected not to pay more for any of the add ons as I felt we should not pay more for condiments and we wanted to see how it stood on it's own. I've heard from others that this was a mistake. When the ramen arrived, there was 2 pieces of pork belly garnished by 2 seaweed sheets. The pork belly tasted good, but I felt there wasn't enough for the price. The ramen broth was nearly tasteless. Luckily, we still had the the sauce that came with the dumplings and dumped it into the ramen. This made the flavor profile tolerable. I would imagine this is why they offer flavor bombs.
Having grown up with similar dishes, I have a good idea of what this stuff is supposed to taste like. I can't justify paying more just to make the food taste right. Its like ordering pesto and having to pay $3.00 extra to add basil. I found it ironic that the place is named Umami.
Maybe I was there on an off night (a weekday night, moderately busy) but I don't see the appeal of this place. If I go back, I can see ordering more of the pork buns with many drinks on their new patio. As far as my ramen fix though, I'm going to have to look elsewhere.

boston_jeff
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby boston_jeff » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:38 am

Word. Having to pay that much to add flavor is bad enough, but the base price for the ramen is high to begin with. Two slices of pork...

swoon_queen
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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby swoon_queen » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:22 am

Since my original review above, I've been to Umami probably 6-7 times. I think the key (for us at least) is just to avoid the ramen. It's overpriced and not nearly as tasty as some of their other offerings. The other night my boyfriend and I split the roasted mushroom/arugula salad, the consistently delectable pork buns, 2 different kinds of dumplings, and some of their new late night menu offerings (fried chicken with hoisin glaze, edamame, and a splendid green tea creme brulee with freshly picked strawberries... mmmm). We also had a few cocktails and a cup of sake each. All told, our check was $59.25, we were pleasantly full and had lingered over various plates for about 2 hours. Nick Nice was dj'ing and the atmosphere was cozy and welcoming. I think Umami is a great addition to the Willy St. row of restaurants but agree that the ramen is ironically its downfall.

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Re: Ate at Umami!

Postby TAsunder » Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:15 am

Have any of the folks who have tried Umami's ramen been parking in Muramoto's weekly ramen? I've tried the weekly ramen at Muramoto and it is fantastic - better than their previous ramen bowl that was a regular item I ordered back then. I am wondering how they compare.

The Muramoto weekly ramen is indeed quite salty and HOT (as it should be).


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