2018 was a massive year for dining out. I cannot even count the amount of venues I gorged at during the year but based on my photography folders on the hard drive it is well over 200. With my working as Co-Host on the Where’s The Food? Series I also managed to dine at a few of the highest voted Sushi Venues based on the Food Critics and Bloggers Australia member’s choices but one venue that took my breath away was from a direct invite to attend UMI SUSHI and BAR in Haymarket.
The most awesome owner, Jessie Chau, sent me a message on Instagram and asked if I would like to visit and I took foodie partner in crime, Tammi, and we both were treated to one of the most sublime feasts of 2018. A fusion of flavours and an assortment of Japanese cuisine that was as good as the food I tried in Japan last February.
UMI SUSHI AND BAR VENUE:
Umi Kaiten-Zushi (Haymarket) was first established in 2006, the owners of Umi were passionate about Japanese cuisine and in particular the art of sushi and sashimi making. Together with the top sushi masters, they spent years in perfecting their menu, trying their best to preserve delicate flavours of traditional sushi, whilst bringing innovation to the world of Japanese cuisine.
In 2017, they expanded the restaurant and went through a total refurbishment to what is now Umi Sushi and Bar, incorporating new elements to stimulate the desires of the existing patrons and to better service the changing demands of the industry and its customers. This flagship store now provides entertainment and dining with the option of private rooms for parties, business meetings or corporate functions for small or large groups up to 40 people.
The venue itself is quite unassuming from the outside. It is located along the Broadway side of Capitol Square and the light rail runs past its front door. The inside has a yellow lit bar, plenty of seating and a huge fish tank that has a sushi train running around it and the stooled seating in front of some of the chefs. We sat to the side in a booth and we loved it. We could watch the fishtank and chefs and also have privacy from others. They also offer quite a few outdoor tables along the shopfront but on the day we visited it was bucketing down with rain and we huddled indoors.
The menu is absolutely huge at 33 pages long. The good news is that it’s a glossy picture book – I do enjoy these. You can see everything before you order it.
Umi Sushi and Bar serves wonderfully fresh sushi and sashimi, live seafood, chargrilled kushiyaki skewers, traditional Japanese chef’s selection banquet – Omakase, and a huge range of Japanese beer, sake and whisky. They also do an exceptional sashimi boat and I better mentioned the hot pop – it ended me haha. It was more Chankonabe than hot pot and I was in heaven.
OMAKASE – WHAT WE WERE SERVED:
All our meals were selected for us and I am so glad for it. With so much to choose from I would have had an aneurysm before making my selections.
Umi Boat of Cold Delicacies – Smoked Otoro with Hickory Wood, Snapper Carpaccio with Truffle Salsa, HouseMade Avocado Salad. Then the sushi of Foie Gras, Scampi, Uni, Salmon Belly, Kingfish Belly, Conger Eel and other seasonal fish.
Spicy Grilled Cheese Scallop
Grilled Platter of Ox Tongue, Wagyu Steak and Assorted Skewers
Soy Milk Seafood Hotpot with Premium Wagyu Beef
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
For my own tastes this was the single best sushi/sashimi place of 2018. It is sushi and sashimi plus more that also accommodates the tastes of Europeans. I dined at Sashimi Shinsengumi during the year and Chef is classed as one of the masters of sashimi in Australia, but it was too much for me. I will give them the single best omelette of the year but an entire meal of sashimi was too much for this Aussie. Umi Sushi and Bar is the best all-rounded venue and will have enough on the menu to appeal to everyone.
Jessie and the Chefs of Umi Sushi and Bar selected a menu to give us a complete overview of the restaurant’s food and we were in heaven. It started out strong with the presentation of the Umi Boat. This large model wooden boat with some of the best sushi and sashimi I have eaten appeared with clouds and clouds of dry ice mist falling from its decks.
After we got over the stunning theatrics of the presentation the food blew our mind. My first bite was the smoked Otoro. Otoro is the most prized part of the tuna belly and it’s also the fattiest part of the tuna. It fell apart like butter, I will be seeking out this cut forever!! Second bite, because I was eagerly waiting on it was the Foie Gras Sushi – this was new, and this was indulgent decadence. LOVED!! The snapper carpaccio with truffle salsa also took my breath away because truffle is my heroin. The avocado salad was nice but not stand out compared to the rest but it was good breaking all the fish up. Special mentions to the Salmon Belly and Conger Eel.
Truffle cabbage was unique. It combined one of my most loved foods with one of my most hated and created a delightful dish I was happy to ingest. The Mentaiko Omelette was light and fluffy. Mentaiko is spicy cod roe marinated in chili sauce. The spicy and rich flavour wrapped with fluffy omelette stimulate your appetite. The flavours were delicious and I will always love a good egg dish.
A standout highlight of the meal was the Spicy Grilled Scallops – mostly because of the huge amount of grilled cheese but also because of the HUGE scallops, and the bonus being the roe still attached. Not something you see much these days.
The grilled platter was more remarkable food – I was already getting full but the wagyu was too awesome to leave! The skewers were all interesting and delicious – we didn’t leave a skerrick.
And finally the Soy Milk Hot Pot with more Wagyu – it was out of this world sensational. Our (or more my) problem was that I was so full. I would attend solely for this dish and nothing else. We needed six people for what we were served. But I did try the broth and some of the seafoods, vegetable and (of course) the wagyu and it was all sublime. Tammi force fed herself because she wasn’t letting that seafood go to waste. I will be returning for a hot pot night come winter. When I was in Japan in early 2018 I tried a Chankonabe Feast and it was one of the best things I had ever eaten. This Hot Pot had all the same flavours and lit up my nostalgic tastebuds – I need it again.
UMI SUSHI AND BAR is an exceptional all rounder Japanese venue that gave us the best of the best of a taste experience. It was my second best Japanese dining experience of 2018 just behind a Chankonabe feast in the snow in Hokkaido earlier in the year. I love this place and will return.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets & 0/1 bonus
UMI SUSHI AND BAR DEETS:
PH: 02 9281 2006
Shop 1 & 2, 477 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (enter via cnr of Hay & Parker St)
PRICING: Medium to High – this is higher end Japanese cuisine – we were given the Sashimi Boat which was $168-. But it literally is a small boat that smokes and has some of the best Japanese food I have eaten on it. You can eat smaller sushi dishes or go as high end as live seafood threeway banquets for $388-.
Sun to Thurs 1130 – 10pm
Fri to Sat 1130 – late
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
LOCAL DELIVERY: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Yes
BYO: I do not believe so – they offer a full bar
*** Spooning Australia dined as a guest the venue ***
For more reviews of Sydney Venues – check them out HERE