Friday, March 1, 2013


My friend and I set of to try Umami, a new restaurant on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam. It's sort of French-Asian-Fusion so I was kinda curious and anxious. Usually I'm not a big fan of fusion. I tend to miss the specifics that made the dish interesting to begin with. But hey, I try to be open minded :)

The restaurant has a open and refreshing waiting area, followed by a newly decorated corridor with tables lined on one side. It opens up in to a atmospheric den with beautifully embossed metal lamps and gigantic vases. We were escorted to our table by a friendly waiter who explained their shared dining concept, which allows you to pick two dishes per person per course of their diner menu.
We started with a complimentary aperitif, prosecco with a dash of strawberry, and some bread. The bread was served with what seemed to be a bit of balsamic vinegar with some olive oil, but it wasn't. It tasted like a hoisin-based-gravy and went very well with the fresh bread.

corridor Umami prosecco aperitif fresh bread

For our first course we choose four salads: duck, crayfish, prawn and beef. They all looked great but unfortunately only the beef salad stood out... The beef slices were nice and juicy and the flavors were nicely blended. If only we'd ordered that twice. The prawn salad was fine, but basically just lettuce, cooked prawns and chili sauce. The crayfish salad was a true disappointment. It was finely chopped and full of mayonnaise. Such a waste. I feel if you're going to use a beautiful thing like crayfish, you should let its gentle and fresh flavor shine not smother it in mayo. Our least favorite was the duck salad. I'm not sure what it was that put us of, but the duck was a bit dry and the flavors just didn't go together at all. My friend said it tasted like chalkboard and detergent... Ouch!

duck salad crayfish salad prawn salad beef salad

For our second course we had the dim sum special, lamb skewers, scallops and the soy bean croquettes. My favorite was the croquette. It had green, white and black beans inside a crispy jacket and was served with a refreshing mayo. The scallops were promising but they were under cooked, which made them a bit snotty. Other than that I liked it. The lamb skewers had a tempura-like-crust on them. It wasn't exactly what we were expecting, but not awful either. On to the dim sum special. If I were them I would not call a sorry looking dish like this a "special." It was just two spring rolls and two deep fried pastries. In all honesty I didn't even try them but my friend said it tasted exactly like it looked... uninteresting.

dim sum special lamb skewer scallops soy bean croquette

For our last course we had the marinated pork (cha siew), tenderloin in black bean sauce, Thai prawn curry and squid. The squid was cooked well, not chewy at all. It could have used a little more seasoning and the portion was a little tiny, but it was ok. The cha siew was nicely portioned and very juicy. It was indeed honey glazed, but I liked it. The prawn curry was a little to sweet for my liking, but otherwise fine. The tenderloin was nice and tender and well that was that. Overall this course was the "most successful"of all, but nothing to be overly impressed about.

cha siew tenderloin in black bean sauce thai prawn curry squid

I guess for €20 p/p it wasn't bad, but this is not a restaurant I will be frequenting. None of their dishes were noteworthy and for the same price I could have had a very enjoyable meal at A fusionBirdOriental City or some other place. I'd rather have great food in a simple restaurant than mediocre food in a hip-ish looking place. But by all means do decide for yourself.

P.S: I realize this was a massive amount of bitching, but I actually let this post sit for a few days to see if I would become less disappointed. I didn't. In fact I became even more convinced that if it hadn't been for the good company I had been with, I would have bitched even more...

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