Umi Sake House

31 May

Umi Sake House
2230 1st Ave, Seattle

I think I’ve had about 5 people recommend Umi’s to me, so it was only a matter of time before I caved in and tried it. Last month when Julian came to visit we headed there for a late dinner (which was OK because it was happy hour 11pm onwards) The prices were lower but the waitress said that the portions were smaller too, so I don’t know if it worked out any cheaper. But that way we got to taste more dishes.

We started off with a mixed sashimi platter ($10)

and also a salmon sashimi platter ($8)

They were very good and I think pretty good value for money. I’m not a fish expert but I’d say the sashimi was a step down from Shiro’s but overall much better value for money. Actually in general the whole meal was pretty reasonable – I think the most expensive thing we ordered was a bottle of sake.

We also ordered some crispy calamari ($5.50) and grilled garlic short ribs ($6). I had a separate photo of the ribs but you can see them pretty well in the calamari photo.

It’s been awhile but I remember the calamari being OK (not particularly crispy though) and the ribs were full of flavour but there wasn’t a lot of meat on the bones. At that price though, both are worth ordering.

I also ordered some soft shell crab ($12) because I love it and always order it when I see it on the menu. I’ve had better – these ones were pretty small and didn’t taste as nice as ones that I’ve had in the past.

From process of elimination I think this must have been the spicy ginger chicken ($6). This was pretty good and, as I recall, disappeared quite quickly from our table.

Also very popular was the agedashi tofu ($5) which had a nice, subtle miso soupish flavour.

We were still hungry so we ordered another mixed sashimi platter and a small tempura platter ($5.50).

Like the calamari the tempura was kind of flavourless and not as good as our favourite Japanese restaurant back in Melbourne (also the shrimp wasn’t nearly as large). But for $5.50 it was awesome value!

Everyone was still not quite full so we all ordered desserts, which were $9 each. They were OK but we all agreed that the descriptions were pretty misleading.

I ordered the green tea tiramisu, which sounded intriguing. But seriously, how is this a green tea tiramisu? It didn’t even taste like tiramisu and it was basically a sponge cake!

James ordered the gateau chocolat (why does a Japanese restaurant have a French name for chocolate cake?) and it was pretty good.

Julian got the souffle cheesecake because he was intrigued – how do you mix a light and airy souffle with a dense cheesecake? It turns out you don’t; this was a mousse tarted up to sound fancy.

The desserts were fine, though a bit overpriced relative to what we received. Also I was pretty disappointed with the misleading descriptions – if I’d known what we were going to get I think I would have ordered my standby Japanese dessert of black sesame ice cream. Or else just kept eating off the regular menu until I was full.

Overall Umi’s is very solid though not spectacular. But at happy hour prices I definitely recommend it – if you avoid buying booze and dessert it’s a cheap meal that punches far above its price point.

It was fairly empty when we went (around midnight on a weekday) but I’m told it’s very busy during regular hours. I hate crowds and I love cheap prices so it’s off to Umi’s next time we’re in the mood for a midnight snack.

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