Went out to try Umami at Fortitude Valley last week. Despite my usual hesitation for modern Asian fusion, my good experience with Junk lead me to try it out, so a couple of us headed there for some dinner after work on Friday.
One of the main themes of the restaurant which really caught our eye was the Maneki Neko (beckoning cat), which one of my companions really quite adored. Apparently these are also offered for sale.
Arriving at 6, we were one of the first tables, and were seated at the window. There was a definite techno neon theme to the restaurant.
Both the drinks and food menu had a fusion Asian twist to it. The food menu was sorted into snack sizes and main sizes, but the setup was definitely for sharing.
From the drinks menu, we had Japanese Old Fashioned containing whiskey and plum wine, Cu Tea Pi, which was rum, milk, cold brew, tea and coconut jelly. It was packaged like bubble tea but with a sweet boozy twist to it, I tried some and would have appreciated a bit more on the tea side. I had the Umami Espresso Martini, which was quite tasty, but a little on the sweet side and I would have liked a bit more drink than foam.
Our first dish of the night was the croquettes. They were freshly fried and topped with copious amounts of fontina cheese which gave it lots of bite. It was so hot it almost scalded our mouths, but once we waited a little bit, the potato was quite smooth and very comforting.
Next we had the brisket red curry, which contained brisket, sweet potatoes, sugar snaps and Asian herbs. The beef was quite scarce in the dish, most chunks were actually sweet potato, but the curry sauce was quite nice, with a good balance of taste and spiciness. This was served with a bowl of fragrant jasmine rice, which we quite appreciated.
We also ordered the bbq duck pancake. It came in four portions. so we had a piece each. The pastry was a little dry and brittle, not the usual freshly steamed type, but that wasn't a major setback for us. The major setback occurred only when we finally noticed the "duck" when we bit into it. The "duck" was actually BBQ PORK. Being dim and covered by sauce (also preoccupied with dinner conversation) we did not notice until it was too late, but I was sorely disappointed in the lack of crispy skin duck. The pork itself was completely consumed by the sauce and did not taste nice.
Our next dish was the crumbed fish with chilli tomato salsa. It was a little different from what we had expected, being more akin to a piece of fish from a fish and chip store with salad and tomato salsa on the side. Despite this, it was still quite crispy and freshly fried, but definitely nowhere near worth the $36 price tag.
Our final main was the DIY rice paper wrap. It came with grilled beef, noodles, salad and dipping sauce. Starting with the beef, I found it to be somewhat dry and tasteless. The salad was reasonably fresh though, and the noodles were on the chewy side. The result was quite a bland tasting wrap, even with the sauce, it was still quite tasteless, and it really didn't help that the very enthusiastic wait staff removed the sauce whilst we were still eating.