Our favourite omakase experience so far of 2021, Bangsar South's new Umi Omakase offers many skilful moments, some surprising ones and a few transcendent flashes of brilliance. Chiba-born chef Takahiro Shiga and his team strike a strong balance between serving seasonal specialities and crowd-pleasing produce, executed with a mastery of Japanese ingredients.
The most comprehensive omakase dinner tops out at RM980, kicking off very promisingly with starters like sakura tofu, Iwate-sourced oyster, and a platter of shishito peppers, sliced abalone, chilled hairy crab, Japanese tomatoes and vinegared seaweed.
Sashimi surfaces in two beautiful courses, including one of sayori, saba and baby red snapper blossoming over ice, like springtime breaking over winter.
Hot cooked dishes range from a memorable chawanmushi, steamed in yuzu skin for a rich, penetrating tang throughout the egg custard, crowned with luscious ebi and uni, to fried shirauo and mountain vegetables to the over-the-top decadence of Japanese A5 wagyu beef layered not only with foie gras but sea urchin, roe and shaved truffles, plus a punchy side of thick truffle sauce.
Umi's nigiri sushi is distinctive, with rice that's notably warm-temperatured and savoury-tasting, featuring well-separated, soft-textured grains. The neta-shari proportions are practically perfect, a sterling showcase particularly for the amaebi and otoro.
The pinnacle is the uni sushi - many restaurants in KL serve this, but none has wowed us as much as Umi. This is uni sushi that's capable of stunning customers into silence, compelling them to close their eyes as the Bafun uni melts into the rice, sinking into their tongues and memories, washing us over with flavours of earth and sea, a cloud of warm and cold contrasts.
We also ordered extra servings - the akagai sushi is worthwhile, as is the gunkan sushi with saltwater-marinated sea urchin.
For fans of extravagantly fatty rice bowls, the engawa don with foie gras should satisfy, followed swiftly by a soulful clam soup and reviving ending of the juiciest Japanese melon and cherries.
Ground Floor, Tower 11, Avenue 5, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur.
Daily for lunch, 12pm-230pm; two sessions for dinner, 6pm-8pm, 8pm-10pm. Tel: 03-2242-3313