Ume (Eat Art)

Saturday, 7 September 2013

If the Eat Art Food Truck were to have a stationary cousin, Ume would surely be it. Opened in 2012 by husband & wife team Kerby Craig and Hiroko Muranishi, this Japanese establishment has taken over the old Bistrode site on 478 Bourke St (talk about prime real estate!). Ume, translating to plum in English has achieved quiet success in true Japanese fashion earning a well deserved One Chef's Hat in the 2014 SMH Good Food Guide

From an inconspicuous shopfront in Surry Hills hides this dynamite Japanese restaurant - who'da thunk it? That cherry blossom mural is the real deal, beautiful.  Photo credit: Ume

There's no need for white tablecloths, the vibe is decidedly casual but there is room for a bit of a Saturday night dress up. Muranishi does a fantastic job navigating the front of house staff. Every table gets your undivided attention, all delivered with a cheery smile. Crack open a cold Kirin or be adventurous and go for a tokkuri of premium sake (and burn from the inside). Perfect for date night, if you ask me!

Now, to the business end:

This dish needs no introductions, it has been splashed proudly across all forms of media. Seared scallop carpaccio: soy brown butter, finger limes, young sorrel, dulse (red seaweed). A dream to look at and a dream to eat, if you're into raw molluscs (I pretty much polished off the whole thing...whoops). The flavours here are completely harmonious and the herbs/roe add a nice textural overtone (off I rant). Order this dish okay, I BEG YOU.

The 'Shiki no salad' is definitely no slouch: roast heirloom carrots, fried brussel sprouts, dashi custard, wild herbs, soy & ginger dressing. This dish was certainly an unexpected pleasure. The health benefits of Brussels sprouts are properly nullified by chucking them in the fat fryer but OMG YUM. The dashi custard was a brilliant addition to a total work of food art. Bow.

I mean, come on. How can you even eat that? It is too gorgeous, the Tako: Fremantle sustainable 'giant' octopus, shio koji potato, baby sun rose, pickled lime juice and soy. I really like the idea of the small plate at Ume, feel free to order a bit of everything - or let the kitchen choose by doing the 6 course degustation for a measly $80. You'd be a fool (like us, actually) to say no!

Wagyu 'sukiyaki style' (Ryugin 2010): David Blackmore Wagyu 9+, yaki dofu (grilled tofu), shimeji, nasturtium, soy-mirin reduction, onsen tamago (boiled egg). By this point we were a bit soy-sauced out (if that's even possible). The flavours were quite mild but after a while all the soy-based dressings started to meld together.  As an aside, who knew that wagyu marbling scores went up to 12? Not I. Have a squiz at this truly impressive pdf about Wagyu Grading Standards. Scary stuff.

And to round off the evening, a spot of DOLCE:

The dessert known by one name: Mandarin. Mandarin tofu, frozen green tea, dehydrated cocoa mousse, mochi, mandarin sorbet. I'm sorry to say this dish was a bit of a downer. All the elements ended up a bit confused on the plate and didn't necessarily suit. This is a classic example of the contrived constructed/deconstructed (which is it, pray tell?) dessert.

Making moves in a shoe-box. Ume keeps doing its thing with minimal fuss, which provides a refreshing change from all those hipster taco/burger joints spreading across Sydney like wildfire. It just shows you the power of 'trending', doesn't it. Photo credit: Ume

I must say, my dinner at Ume was thoroughly enjoyable. For the most part I was getting good vibes, especially from that delicately flavoured and balanced Japanese fusion menu. Props must go to the Craig and his kitchen. It's a great spot to keep in mind. Welcome to the 'hood Ume, enchantée.

Thanks for reading
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