I adore the Sydney restaurant scene for its selection of quality Japanese cuisine, and Ume was no exception. Awarded one hat by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide, the cosy restaurant on Bourke Street provided excellent service, food, and a delightful evening while my friend Alan and I exchanged stories from the past year.
We opted for the 5-course set menu ($74), but I was able to switch my dessert for something chocolatey found on the 7-course menu. Some restaurants get grumpy at such requests and are unwilling to accommodate, so I was extra pleased in this regard. An extra reason to celebrate with my yuzu high ball ($16) and Alan’s Kaku whisky sour ($21)!
The first course was a truffle and shiitake mushroom Nagano-style dumpling, which was…amazing. Taste, texture, everything. When we finished ours, we definitely wanted more!
Next up were some seared Hokkaido scallops with Koikuchi shoyu/soy sauce, Konbu brown butter, and finger lime. Still dreamy from the dumpling, I didn’t think anything could be better…until I took a bite of a scallop. Oh my goodness, it was seared and seasoned to perfection.
Surely, nothing can beat such deliciousness…right? How very, very wrong I was. The following course of charred Riverina lamb shoulder with garlic miso, wasabi pea sauce, fried nori/seaweed and pea shoot… I am salivating as I write and recall this. At first, we were a bit unsure about the fried nori and what it added to the dish, but when I tore off a piece and rolled it around a bit of lamb and sauce…the universe made sense.
The final savoury course was a medley of seasonal veggies, which, though they couldn’t beat the lamb, formed a perfect balance for the previous courses. That evening, we had sesame-roasted cauliflower, dashi-braised carrot, roasted baby onion, fried Jerusalem artichoke, buckwheat custard, and Sake Lees vinegar dressing. It was fresh and beautiful.
And then…dessert. Alan stuck to the menu and had a concoction of Artificer Coffee ice-cream, strawberry jam and chips, ginger custard, white chocolate crumble, and dango. I stole a strawberry chip (yum!), while Alan was in his caffeinated happy place.
Meanwhile, I had the “Kuroki dessert” (black dessert), consisting of Houji-cha pastry cream rolled in sesame cake, sake-simmered blueberry, pecan, and Aero chocolate. As much as I adore desserts that are richest rich of all richness, I love the delicate palate of Japanese renditions, and this was just right.
And of course, all this deliciousness was consumed in a laid-back atmosphere with the restaurant’s namesake ume (plum) blossoms lining the walls.
Visited on: Wednesday, 30 September 2015. Dinner.
Spent: The bill came to a total of $147 for two people, but Alan had a discount from the Entertainment book. There are also options for matching sake, which start from $40 each.
Overall: I was extraordinarily pleased by the food, drinks, and service. Many set menus tend to contain amazing dishes followed by somewhat disappointing ones, but Ume only continued to impress. I will definitely return, and perhaps try one of the larger menus in the future. On the fine-dining scale, I give it 9/10.
This post was sponsored by Alan, who always feeds me when I’m in Sydney. Please come to Belfast soon so I can return the favour (with fish and chips, and possibly some champ).
Lunch: Friday – Saturday: 12:00-14:30
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday: 18:00-22:00