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Spotlight: Scott Joseph On Umi Sushi Bar And Japanese Restaurant


I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Umi, a sushi bar and Japanese restaurant on Park Avenue, even though it included some of the absolute worst mussels to ever have been placed in front of me.

The menu features not only the expected sushi selections but also kitchen foods that include robata grilled meats and a couple of ramen soups.

It was in the Nagasaki ramen bowl where lurked the offending mussels, miserable to a mollusk. One had a shell that looked like it had been whacked with a mallet; one or two hadn’t opened, which is never a good sign. Those that had opened held hard little nubs not worth the chewing that would be required.

But remove those from the picture, or more specifically from the bowl, and what was left was a wonderfully full-flavored pork broth tinged with a bit of seafood saltiness, with tender-firm shrimp, scallops and black fungus tree mushrooms, all atop big, chewy ramen noodles. Mussels? What mussels?

From the list of sushi rolls I selected the Tuna by Tuna, a basic tuna roll amplified with tuna sashimi on the outside, a dollop of tobiko fish roe and scallions for color as well as taste.

Kurumi tofu salad was a prettily presented dish of house-made walnut tofu, creamy textured cubes that could make a tofu lover out of the most dedicated carnivore. It was graced with a balsamic tinged vinaigrette and garnished with plumes of romaine.

The house salad that came with my ramen was better than what passes as the house salad at most sushi joints, with a spring mix of lettuces and a delicious pulpy ginger dressing.

There have been a number of Asian restaurant in and out of this space in a short time. Mussels notwithstanding, I think Umi will be here for a while.