How Japanese is a vegetarian friendly cuisine- Umame, Mumbai

For those who walk into this restaurant without knowing the cuisine, Umame is from the word umami, which translates into deliciousness in Japanese. Try naming five tastes—sweet, salty, bitter, sour—umami, is the fifth taste which is commonly found in tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and soy sauce.

(Spicy Samurai Sushi)
“People immediately associate Japanese food with sushi and raw meat, and for them caviar is just fish eggs, that’s the perception I wish they change and try the right dishes,” urges 21-year old Marzban Amroliwalla, the chef who is heading the dessert kitchen and has conceptualized the Robatayaki menu, at pan-Asian fine dining restaurant Umame. A brain child of Farrokh Khambatta, I went in with the notion that drinks and desserts are all that I will have, but with a meal that lasted 3 hours, between two vegetarians, I was forced to change my belief that Japanese cuisine is not meant for vegetarians. “Owing to the area (Churchate), it is impossible for us to not have vegetarian inclusions, since most of our clientele is vegetarian” reasons Marzaban.
Quite convincing since on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant ran a full cover, with most of the guests having the choicest of vegetarian dishes

                         (Robata Grill Asparagus and Shitake Mushrooms, Spicy Yuzu Miso)

Note- They are hosting the Robatayaki ("fireside cooking" in Japanese) Food Fest at Umame and Joss till 31st March 2015. This review is based on the regular menu and the Robatayaki menu

What to eat- The chef urges us to move beyond Khaw Suey which is their highest selling dish, but not the only thing they would want you to try. We liked with the Robata Grill Asparagus and Shitake Mushrooms, Spicy Yuzu Miso from Robatayaki menu and moved on to the excellently flavoured Burnt Chilli and tamarind Soup from the soup selection. Breaking our notion that vegetarian sushi can’t be tasty, we were floored by their Crunchy Rolls and Spicy Samurai, along with the creatively prepared Vegetarian Mock Duck. The Crystal Jade vegetables with sprouts Bibimbap is another must try.

  (Vegan Mock Duck)

What’s for desserts- We tried the Chocolate Cigar but what really stole the thunder was The Big Bang Theory. Made with edible planets, asteroids and sun, the dessert which looked like the solar system and attracted all the attention to our table, looked like this- 

Why Umame- Because it’s time Indians tried Japanese food and explored pan-Asian cuisine beyond Oriental and Thai varieties. While Asian cuisine faces a daunting challenge of getting restricted to only 'Chinese' food, Umame restricts their Oriental menu and successfully makes people try dishes from other cuisines which suit our palate.

                                             (Crystal Jade vegetables with sprouts Bibimbap )

Whom to go with- A completely family dining experience, Umame is a place where you go to host a private party with your select set of family friends. Of course, couples can enjoy a cozy dinner too, but when (and if) I get a salary hike, I am talking my parents here.

What to wear- I think they only accepted me in chappals, since I was writing about them, so, note to self- smart casuals or formals should be donned next time.

Cost for 2- Rs 3000



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