Far Eastern cuisine
What does Umami feel like? Could it be what Im feeling on a wintery Jodhpur night now? Am feasting on the Royal Marwar thali in the romantic rooftop restaurant atop the Indo Sarcenic Umaid Bhawan palace which soars into the silent desert sky. Jodhpur swoons in delight below, the flaming red setting sun shimmers into twilight as the complex rich flavors of Royal recipes implode in my mouth. “Umami” the most luxurious gourmet adjective comes alive here. Does it do so in the brand new “Umame” in Churchgate? Pedigreed well-travelled gourmet guests from one of Mumbai’s most well-known families, Anil C Kilachand (passionate about cooking) took time off his busy work schedule to dine with us. Indira,a doting granma of three, active in Indus, gave us her opinion on the vegetarian fare here. We had a great time and great food…but did “Umame” deliver umami?
One more success story from chef-owner Farokh Khambatta. Having hooked his regulars with Joss (now closed), Amadeus and Café at NCPA, he very recently set up Umame on the so called “jinxed” location of Starters and More and Valhalla in Churchgate.
Umame sprawls in a large dimly lit hall with high-backed chairs, light box images of skyscrapers on the ceiling and a stylish black marble bar. In the cooler months the alfresco balcony is a great option.
Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Burmese, Chinese and Japanese fare here.After systematic eating over four meals, here’s what came out consistently tops: the superlative, impeccably cooked Iberian pork belly with whispers of sweetness of honey garlic glaze. Outstanding Massaman curry dense with flavor and creamy in texture, the plumpest of scallops with prawns too. Burmese Khaosuey fans this is your mecca, seven accompaniments enliven the curried coconutty soup.
Sushi buffs can look forward to new style sushi as well as Nigiri ( Sunset boulevard sushi recommended). New style sashimi (must try yellow fin tuna).The menu winds through many a delight, dimsum ( go for crispy prawn cheung fun with chive paste) succulent Barbecue chicken Asian style, New Zealand lamb shank and more.
Indira agreed that the vegetarian gourmet is well taken care of (Nappa valley roll New style sushi, hosomaki, mango and avocado recommended)dim sum (must try Crispy sui mai water chestnuts, crispy cheung fun) main courses (ask for ma po tofu, Peruvian white asparagus, prosperity wheat noodles).
For desserts , it’s the Mille feuille with berries and honey balsamic glaze that comes out tops with its airy lightness and fruitiness. While the chocolate rich My sweetest mistake is okayish, the hot chocolate kahlua soufflé fares better.
The downsides? Both at lunch and at dinner, we found the place too dark, tables set too close to each other and its so packed that it can get noisy. The long, winding menu confuses, some of the dimsum are patchy, inconsistent quality of the crispy duck with pancakes, the icky green tea tiramisu.
Umame is already drawing packed houses. Umame lives up to it’s name of Umami which describes the fifth taste (after sweet, sour, bitter and salty) the most gourmet of adjectives, We’ll be back.
Umame First Floor,Eros Theatre Building
M. Karve Road
PHONE: 022 6111 0303 / 04 / 05
AVERAGE MEAL FOR TWO Rs 4000
OPEN lunch and dinner
Delicious divine bliss? This is it. A unique 56 course (chhapan bhog) prasadam meal. We partook of it in the lush gardens of Mehrangarh fort, as temple rasoiyas from the most sacred of temples around the country cooked up the most authentic of recipes. Enterprising Arun and Geeta Buddhiraja served up this Bhog, temple food of India and with it a unique collection of rare recipes.Jodhpur’s lovable Maharaja and Maharanisa ate with us on glistening green banana leaves. Unusual flavors and textures of 56 prasadam delighted with sweet, sour, tangy, salty and yes umami. And now later at night, Chef Sonus robust boothas and soolas on the Umaid Bhawan palace rooftop do an amazing jugalbandi with sogras,In the timeless lake palace Bal Samand, it’s the rabodi hara kanda (Rajasthani version of pasta but infinitely better) which seduces. Be it my swims in the chilled blue waters of ancient royal pools or the riot of exuberant color of flowers in the palace gardens…for me its umami unlimited.