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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Umami, Sydney


Sashimi bento box $14.50 (lunch special 11am-4pm)
Served with agedashi tofu, croquettes, rice, salad and miso soup

I hadn't realised until someone pointed it out reecntly that I tend to feature a lot of Japanese on this blog. It's no surprise, really. I tend to eat a lot of Japanese!

When asked my favourite cuisine, I invariably nominate both Japanese and Vietnamese. However unlike Vietnamese eateries which tend to cluster around Chinatown, Japanese joints seem to be scattered all over the Sydney CBD.

What's not to love about Japanese food? Clean flavours, fresh ingredients and beautiful presentation. And I love that you can easily sneak in a little fried food whilst still feigning virtuousness.

And the obento box must be one of my favourite ways to eat. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. All neatly compartmentalised so it feels like fun.


Tempura bento box $11.90 (lunch special 11am-4pm)
Served with agedashi tofu, croquettes, rice, salad and miso soup

I'd been keen to try Umami after noticing its consistent busy-ness during the lunchtime rush hour. We took advantage of the obento box lunch specials, saving a few dollars off each.

Despite the trill of Irrashaimasse! as we enter (the traditional Japanese welcome greeting to customers) we expect that Umami has more of a Korean kitchen, with the inclusion of bulgogi beef and chilli pork on the menu, as well as a lost Chinese entree of spring rolls. There's also an assortment of udon noodles, katsudon, donburi and salads.


Karaage chicken

We order two different obento boxes: sashimi and tempura. Both come with the same side dishes of karaage chicken, agedasih tofu, salad, rice and miso soup. A generous portion of tempura vegetables and pawn is covered in a pale barely coloured batter that is light, bubbly and crisp. I find the sashimi a tad bland, a trio of king fish, salmon and tuna that doesn't have the fresh sweetness I'm looking for.

Much tastier is the karaage chicken which has been marinated then coated with batter and drizzled in Japanese mayonnaise. The chicken is succulent and juicy.


Miso soup


Agedashi tofu

Miso soup is on the watery side, but I do enjoy the agedashi tofu. Again it's quite a pale batter but I delight in the gelatinous stretch of the potato starch coating, softened by the dashi broth, quite powerfully sweet in this instance.

And because there's no escaping the Global Financial Crisis, is there a tastier way of packing dinner leftovers than in the form of your own homemade obento box? For inspiration, I like to check out Aussie blog The Food Pornographer, and if your scissor skills are particularly fine, you might want to emulate some of Pikko's obento tributes to Lost
which even made the local Hawaiian morning news.





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Umami
73 Bathurst Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9267 5878

Open 7 days 11am - 10pm

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Obento - Musashi Dining Bar, Sydney
Obento - Tomadachi, Broadway

Obento - Jetstar inflight meal Sydney to Osaka (May07)
Obento - Japan, Tokyo (May07)
Obento - Japan, Tokyo to Takayama (May07)

13 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 3/17/2009 12:52:00 am


13 Comments:

  • At 3/17/2009 7:35 am, Blogger Y said…

    I love bento boxes, but hardly ever get to have them, because they're a lunch thing right? It always seems like a bit too much food for me to manage for lunch!

     
  • At 3/17/2009 9:32 am, Anonymous shez said…

    mmmm! bento boxes are brilliant for the get-a-little-bit-of-everything they offer. i especially love it when there's agedeshi tofu involved. hooray for starchy goodness!

     
  • At 3/17/2009 1:39 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    It's a great way to get variety. Variety is meant to be good for your nutrition as well as the taste right?

     
  • At 3/17/2009 3:51 pm, Blogger Karen said…

    Yum Japanese will have to be one of my favourite cuisines too. And bento boxes are always gorgeous to look at although I never feel that it's filling enough!

     
  • At 3/17/2009 8:04 pm, Anonymous Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said…

    I used to think that my two favourite cuisines were Japanese and French (or a fusion between the two) but I've realised that it's really more Japanese for the variety. French food is gorgeous but just a bit too rich to have all the time for me.

     
  • At 3/17/2009 9:35 pm, Blogger FFichiban said…

    Yay for Japanese! Everybody loves it and will never get sick of it ^^! Well not me at least hee hee yuummmm

     
  • At 3/17/2009 9:45 pm, Anonymous Yas said…

    A Japanese place on Bathurst? I didn't even know that.
    I wish all my favorite Japanese restaurants did Bento. Else I'll bring my own box!

     
  • At 3/17/2009 9:47 pm, Anonymous Mike said…

    If you love Japanese you should visit Sushi Samurai on bunn st in Pyrmont, its my faviourite japanese in Sydney, so good

    Grilled seafood and avocado salad is to die for

     
  • At 3/18/2009 12:12 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Y - They do tend to be a lunch thing, although I'd happily eat one any time of day :) And oh, I think it's funny that your comment about portion size directly contrasts with Karen's below!

    Hi Shez - Oh yes, agedashi tofu is one of my favourites, especially because it's one of those dishes you would never bother creating at home. I heart starch indeed.

    Hi Arwen - Variety is the spice of life! Plus I love that it's like a mini banquet for one.

    Hi Karen - Bento boxes are beautiful indeed. I've packed my lunch obento-style a couple of times, and it's amazing how much interesting your lunch seems when it's divided into little sections :)

    Hi Lorraine - French and Japanese is a popular one for fusion it seems. I agree, I do find French food a little rich, although I think I could quite happily swap Japanese desserts for French anytime!

    Hi FFichiban - I don't know that everybody loves it, but I certainly do!

    Hi Yas - It doesn't particularly stand-out on Bathurst St, but I had noticed it on my travels around town. And I wish we had the gorgeous obento boxes that you get in Japan. I could quite happily subsist on those for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

    Hi Mike - You're not the first person to recommend Sushi Samurai. I'll have to check it out sometime. Thanks for the tip :)

     
  • At 3/18/2009 1:39 pm, Anonymous Simon said…

    I've always been sceptical of Korean operated Japanese restaurants (too many bad experiences). However, this one looks reasonably nice.

    Aren't bentos great? Makes for a wonderfully balanced meal.

     
  • At 3/18/2009 10:53 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Simon - I find that so many Japanese restaurants tend to be run by Koreans, so I'm more surprised if they're not! And bentos are always fun. A journey of flavours and textures in one lacquered lunchbox.

     
  • At 4/05/2009 6:28 pm, Anonymous tzigane said…

    seeing that another commenter recommended a place, thought i'd add one too......helen, i noticed that you haven't tried toriciya at cammeray - from my experience it is the most authentic izakaya in australia. the decor, the food (including some very good yakitori and many authentic dishes that goes very well with sake) and a spectacular sake/shochu list with 50+ types including different styles from the same maker. almost every colleague and friend i've taken there were amazed by the authentic experience......

    as japanese is one of your favourite cuisines, i'll have to strongly recommend that you try this place at some point. to your point, i think this place has everything there is to love about japanese food :-)

     
  • At 4/06/2009 9:18 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi tzigane - Oh Toriciya has been on my list for ages but yet to coordinate a visit. I have heard so much about their yakitori and sake that yes, I definitely must work on getting there asap.

     

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