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Umu

14-16 Bruton Place, Mayfair, London, England, W1J 6LX, United Kingdom

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Below are notes from my first meal here in May 2005, soon after it opened.

This was rather different from my expectations. All the press has been about the £200 per head kaiseki menu, yet in fact in general the menu is not excessively costly. The simplest menu is £60, and on the a la carte main courses are in mostly the £13 – £24 range, which, let’s face it, is no more than some gastropubs. The dining room is very stylish, with large mirrors on one wall, opposite which is a counter at which sushi chefs, by no means all Japanese, work. Lighting was excellent, and there were perhaps 40 or so covers.

An amuse-bouche of raw mushrooms and shredded green vegetables was pleasant but unexciting (13/20). My tuna sashimi was served in three forms: conventional tuna, flesh from the back of the tuna, and hiro, the belly tuna; this was offered with two soy sauces. The belly tuna was superb, while oddly the normal tuna was merely pleasant; still, 16/20 for the tuna.  “Warm sushi” of langoustine and eel both featured good rice and pleasant, lightly cooked ingredients, but neither langoustine nor eel were by any means the best I have tasted (14/20). Prawn tempura did not have the airy, gossamer texture that I have eaten in specialist tempura places in Tokyo, nor indeed did it compare that well with that at Sketch (12/20). 

For main course, my wife’s salmon was pleasant but distinctly unremarkable, almost dull, and did not have the flavour of wild salmon as far as I could tell (12/20).  I tried wagyu beef, which is imported from Japan and is £45. Unlike the dismal fake wagyu beef that one sees these days at some places, this was the real animal, with fatty, marbled and very tender beef, in this case light cooked rare and served on a bed of bamboo shoots. This was very good indeed (17/20, maybe 18/20) while rice was fine.

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Further reviews: 02nd Dec 2016 | 30th Sep 2015 | 13th Aug 2014 | 01st Apr 2011 | 01st Jul 2007

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